Hanley road closed in chemical alert
A CHEMICAL scare at a takeaway premises led to the shutdown of part of the city centre.
Police were called in to make the area around Hanley Kebab and Pizza Shop in Piccadilly, Hanley, safe and close off the road.
The closure was in place for about four hours while specialist teams from Staffordshire Fire Service carried out tests.
Police are believed to be investigating claims that a man posing as a salesman entered the takeaway and set off a device before stealing cash and making an escape.
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No noxious substances were found however.
Shopper John Stevens, aged 66, from Derby, said: "It looked pretty serious, but nobody was saying that much about it.
"A man came out of there with red hands and it looked like blood, which was pretty shocking, but it turned out to be some kind of dye."
The incident happened at about 12.45pm yesterday.
Around 20 shops and businesses were affected by the closure while emergency crews worked to make the area safe.
Two fire crews from Hanley were called to the scene and were joined by the fire service's Detection, Identification and Monitoring Unit – a team that analyses and makes safe hazardous materials.
Shoppers were prevented from accessing businesses along the road, although many businesses remained open and staff were not evacuated.
Officers ventilated the area, deeming it safe at around 5pm.
Becky Unsworth, aged 20, a student from Shelton, said: "I think it's quite unsettling when you don't know what's happening.
"I had a friend inside the Piccadilly Centre, which is right next door, during the incident.
"The police and fire brigade seemed relaxed and had everything under control, so that reassured people."
James Noble, aged 28, of Blurton, said: "You don't expect to see things like this but in a climate like this, we can't be too careful.
"It might turn out to be nothing at all but it's best to let the specialists check it out and reassure people."
Paul Pearce, aged 22, of Bucknall, said: "Not knowing what it might be is the biggest worry to people.
"It's certainly got a lot of shoppers in Hanley talking because it looks like it's a bit of a major deal."
No injuries were reported as a result of the incident.
The fast food takeaway reopened last night after the road closure was lifted.
The owner of the business, who is understood to have alerted the police, declined to comment to The Sentinel.
A spokesman for Staffordshire Police said: "Tests were carried out but there were no signs of any noxious chemicals or substances in the area.
"Allegations of a criminal nature have been made and are being looked into."