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Bradford business leader backs T&A campaign on bookmakers
Bradford Chamber of Trade has backed the Telegraph & Argus’s campaign to Beat the Betting Blight in Bradford.
The T&A has called for gambling premises to be required to apply for a special licence or be subject to a planning category that would give local authorities the power to refuse them if it would be detrimental to the local shopping environment.
There are ten bookies in the city centre, eight amusement centres and two casinos.
Val Summerscales, secretary of the Chamber, said that once a shop was turned into a bookies it was very unlikely to revert.
“It is devaluing a shopping opportunity in what is supposed to be a prime retail area,” she said. “We have objected to applications for amusement arcades where there has been an application for change of use.
“We have been successful in some, but not in others. It is very disappointing that some locations do not need a change of use and we are campaigning to make the Government aware that in some areas like the city centre it’s a problem.
“We are really behind the campaign. There are too many bookies and we can’t object as the Chamber of Trade as there are no grounds in law.”
Mrs Summerscales said Bradford Council should be making efforts to see what else they could use within existing planning laws.
Stephen Wright, president of Bradford Chamber, said that businesses would establish themselves where they feel they can either get a foothold in the market or consolidate their position, and so they cannot be blamed for trying to build on their situation.
“We don’t know how Bradford compares with other similar cities in terms of proportion of shops. We want to see the city centre as a thriving and busy retail and leisure scene that both paints Bradford in a strong light nationally and provides services and meets the needs of local people and visitors.
“Filling up the units shouldn’t come at all costs though – a varied retail offer is crucial.”