POLICE have closed off a parcel of land in and evacuated a number of residents Oldham town centre following reports of a suspicious packing in Bow Street.

Bomb disposal experts were called to the scene at 11am today and some residents have been evacuated as a precaution, police said.

A safety cordon is in place at Bow Street.

A spokesman said: "At this stage the disruption caused is believed to be minimal."

Several car parks havealso been closed as a suspect package is being X-rayed, The Oldham Times understands.

Nearby businesses have not yet been informed by police over how serious the threat is.

Furniture by Lauren owner Gavin Howarth said: "We've seen the bomb disposal units going past and the cordon be placed on Bow Street, but other than that we know nothing."

Oldham Times advertising executive Kirsty Poston said she could see a number of community police officers and the scene, a small ambulance and a fire engine.

She added: "No-one is panicking and so far there is very little disruption."

Eye-witness reports say a robot was on stand-by as the bomb disposal team continued to examin the package, although at 4.30pm it appeared the operation was being scaled down.