Town centre homes and businesses evacuated as bomb disposal unit called to deal with donation left in charity bag.

Police cordoned off much of Bideford town centre. Picture: Graham HobbsPolice cordoned off much of Bideford town centre. Picture: Graham Hobbs

A suspicious device discovered in a donation bag left at a Bideford charity shop was not dangerous, police have now said.

Much of Mill Street, Cooper Street and Bridgeland Street was closed this afternoon (Wednesday) after staff at the Children's Hospice South West charity shop raised the alarm at around 2.20pm.

Police cordoned off much of Bideford town centre. Picture: Graham HobbsPolice cordoned off much of Bideford town centre. Picture: Graham Hobbs

Police said the device was discovered in what was believed to be a book.

A 100-metre cordon was put in place and around 30 adjoining shops and properties were evacuated as a precaution.

A suspicious device was discovered in a donation bag left at the Children’s Hospice South West charity shop in Mill Street, Bideford. Picture: Graham HobbsA suspicious device was discovered in a donation bag left at the Children’s Hospice South West charity shop in Mill Street, Bideford. Picture: Graham Hobbs

A Royal Navy bomb disposal unit (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) arrived shortly after 6pm and the scene was declared safe at around 6.30pm.

Superintendent Toby Davies said the EOD unit had confirmed that the device was not viable and had now been disposed of.

Police cordoned off much of Bideford town centre. Picture: Graham HobbsPolice cordoned off much of Bideford town centre. Picture: Graham Hobbs

"The device was not dangerous and no member of the public was put at risk," he said.

"Plans were put in place as a precaution and the residents were returned home as soon as possible.

Mayor of Bideford Dermot McGeough handed out tea and coffee to evacuees and members of the emergency services. Picture: Graham HobbsMayor of Bideford Dermot McGeough handed out tea and coffee to evacuees and members of the emergency services. Picture: Graham Hobbs

"We would like to thank the MOD for their assistance and the public for their patience while we established what we were dealing with."

Mayor of Bideford Dermot McGeough thanked the emergencies for keeping the public safe.

Police cordoned off much of Bideford town centre. Picture: Graham HobbsPolice cordoned off much of Bideford town centre. Picture: Graham Hobbs

Mr McGeough even handed out tea and coffee to those evacuated and members of the emergency services.

Police cordoned off much of Bideford town centre. Picture: Graham HobbsPolice cordoned off much of Bideford town centre. Picture: Graham Hobbs

Police cordoned off much of Bideford town centre. Picture: Graham HobbsPolice cordoned off much of Bideford town centre. Picture: Graham Hobbs

Police cordoned off much of Bideford town centre. Picture: Graham HobbsPolice cordoned off much of Bideford town centre. Picture: Graham Hobbs

Bideford mayor Dermot McGeough thanks duty inspector Colin Harper. Picture: Graham Hobbs. Picture: Graham HobbsBideford mayor Dermot McGeough thanks duty inspector Colin Harper. Picture: Graham Hobbs. Picture: Graham Hobbs