Calls for council powers to block betting blight

Calls for council powers to block betting blight

Ladbrokes in the former Post Office building in Bank Street

William Hill in the former Post Office building in Bank Street

BetFred in Market Street

First published in News Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , City Hall Reporter

The blight of betting shops spreading across high streets should be tackled by tough new licensing powers handed to councils, according to the Local Government Association.

The body, which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, was today setting out how the Government should reform the licensing system to stop ‘clusters’ of bookies taking over town and city centres.

The move comes 18 months after the Telegraph & Argus mounted its Beat The Betting Blight campaign calling for a change in planning rules that would give local authorities the power to stop a new bookmakers opening if they felt it would be detrimental to the local shopping environment.

The LGA says it has the backing of industry big-hitters William Hill and BetFred and will be setting up a gambling industry and LGA taskforce to address shoppers’ concerns.

New research by Deloitte reveals 52 per cent of people nationally wanted to see fewer betting shops on the high street.

The LGA said councils wanted to act on these concerns, but were getting increasingly frustrated by a “restrictive planning and licensing system”.

When granting new licences, councils are not allowed take into account the number of betting shops already present in a local area, or their economic and social impact.

The LGA is now calling for the Government to allow councils to consider the ‘cumulative impact’ when deciding on licences, a move which would force betting firms to prove that new shops would not have a negative impact on the local economy or existing businesses.

Councillor Tony Page, the LGA’s licensing spokesman, said many high streets had become saturated with betting shops and councils felt “powerless to act”.

He said: “Councils aren’t anti-bookies but need powers to tackle the damage that can be caused to high streets and town centres by the clustering of betting shops.”

Councillor Simon Cooke, the deputy leader of the oppostion Tory group on the Council, said care need to be taken when introducing any new legislation.

“My concern is if we hound out bookies, what do we get instead?” he said.

“At the moment they are occupying sites and providing jobs and doing things businesses do.”

He added: “I think we need to be cautious in the way we approach this. Bookmakers are not pushing out other business. They are coming into empty properties in the main. We could end up with empty shops.

“While I understand the desire to do some regulation on this, we should be careful what we wish for.”

Councillor Jeanette Sunderland, leader of the Liberal Democrats on Bradford Council, called for the proposed measures to be extended to cover takeaways too.

She said: “They’re all not open during the day, so hot food takeaways just kill off the trade on the high streets. They kill off the footfall.”

Comments (6)

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10:50am Tue 4 Feb 14

Grumpygirl says...

Typical. Tories such as Cllr. Cooke are forever quoting the Daily Mail and complaining that indigent scroungers are ruining this country by spending all their benefits on luxuries such as gambling. Yet when faced with an opportunity to reduce the opportunities for gambling he refuses. Why? Just look at the Tory Party's donor list.
Typical. Tories such as Cllr. Cooke are forever quoting the Daily Mail and complaining that indigent scroungers are ruining this country by spending all their benefits on luxuries such as gambling. Yet when faced with an opportunity to reduce the opportunities for gambling he refuses. Why? Just look at the Tory Party's donor list. Grumpygirl
  • Score: 0

12:11pm Tue 4 Feb 14

Bacon Bantam says...

Remove bookies and fast food outlets and all that will be left in Bradford is pound and charity shops.

The fact this is a problem is mainly down to how the City has been run for the last few decades. We don't even have 1 department store in our City.
Remove bookies and fast food outlets and all that will be left in Bradford is pound and charity shops. The fact this is a problem is mainly down to how the City has been run for the last few decades. We don't even have 1 department store in our City. Bacon Bantam
  • Score: 2

1:48pm Tue 4 Feb 14

Avro says...

What about also restricting the number of Charity shops?
What about also restricting the number of Charity shops? Avro
  • Score: 1

3:18pm Tue 4 Feb 14

alive and awake says...

Why are betting shops a blight? Charity shops, Pound shops, are guilty of making a High St. look run down. Why can't they operate from back streets? It would be cheaper for them.
Why are betting shops a blight? Charity shops, Pound shops, are guilty of making a High St. look run down. Why can't they operate from back streets? It would be cheaper for them. alive and awake
  • Score: 0

6:23pm Tue 4 Feb 14

BertSanders says...

It is not mandatory to use a betting shop. If not used they will go. I am hearing that money is tight and am surprised there is still money for betting.
Perhaps a higher tac should be applied.
It is not mandatory to use a betting shop. If not used they will go. I am hearing that money is tight and am surprised there is still money for betting. Perhaps a higher tac should be applied. BertSanders
  • Score: 2

6:24pm Tue 4 Feb 14

BertSanders says...

BertSanders wrote:
It is not mandatory to use a betting shop. If not used they will go. I am hearing that money is tight and am surprised there is still money for betting.
Perhaps a higher tac should be applied.
correction TAX
[quote][p][bold]BertSanders[/bold] wrote: It is not mandatory to use a betting shop. If not used they will go. I am hearing that money is tight and am surprised there is still money for betting. Perhaps a higher tac should be applied.[/p][/quote]correction TAX BertSanders
  • Score: 2

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