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Brighton traders tell of bomb alert fears after town centre evacuation
Traders have told of the fear, confusion and disruption that followed Thursday’s bomb scare.
Scores of businesses were evacuated as bomb disposal teams descended on Brighton’s army career’s office in Queen’s Road as part of a major nationwide terror alert.
A suspicious package, which is undergoing tests to discover its authenticity, is being linked to Northern Ireland.
The door to the career’s office was locked yesterday with a member of staff referring The Argus to the Ministry of Defence.
Kimberley Norris, from RJ’s Hair in Queen’s Road, told how army officers stormed into the salon at 10.40am and ordered everyone out.
The 28-year-old senior stylist said: “It was a bit chaotic to be honest. We had to put everything down and leave straight away.
“We had customers leaving with colour in their hair and we had to rush them round the corner to another salon. When we have colour in there is a developing time of around 30 minutes – after which I dread to think what would happen.”
“Obviously it was a bit scary but that’s life isn’t it?”
Across the road in The Izzy Store Newsagents, shop assistant Daniela Nastase told how a terrified customer ran in shouting “bomb, bomb”.
The 37-year-old said: “It was scary but I thought they dealt with it really well.
“It’s is reassuring to know they can do what they train to do and keep everyone safe.”
Next door the owners of BP Jewellery had been looking to do well ahead of Valentine’s Day.
Manager Della Collins, 50, said: “It was a huge inconvenience for the business. It wasn’t raining for once and it was the day before Valentine’s Day. I think we must have lost about £4,000.
Shop assistant Alice Proctor, 41, added: “I wasn’t particularlyworried about it before but after hearing about the others it is a bit of a concern.”
Four suspected explosive devices were discovered at army careers offices, in Oxford, Brighton, Canterbury and the Queensmere shopping centre in Slough on Thursday, antiterror police said.
And on Wednesday a suspect package was delivered to another office in Aldershot.
Prime Minister David Cameron chaired a meeting of the Government’s Cobra emergencies committee after Number 10 revealed the packages bore the “hallmarks of Northern Ireland-related terrorism”.
No specific group has claimed responsibility, but sources told the Press Association one of the packages was stamped with a Republic of Ireland postmark.
Meanwhile Barry Farrell, operations manager at home support provider Plan Care in Queen’s Road, had to work remotely.
The 37-year-old said: “Wetake care of some really vulnerable people and need to be contactable all the time.
Sometimes it might just be a query about medication but at other times it could be a call for a paramedic.
“I had to send staff down to our Worthing office and I had to operate everything remotely. It was inconvenient but we managed.”
Round the corner in Church Street, Giedra Bozaite of Alma’s Alterations and Dressmaking, was unsure what was happening.
But the 21-year-old Lithuanian student did what most English people do in a crisis.
She said: “I went round to my friend’s house for tea.”