MPs and Mary Portas wanting a change on bookmakers

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Mary Portas Mary Portas

A Private Members’ BIll was presented to Parliament in July last year which would have made provision for local people and local authorities to have more power to stand up to the number of betting shops in their area.

It would have changed the planning class of betting shops and allowed councils to place a cap on the number of them in an area. It would have taken betting shops out of their current planning class, which groups them with banks, building societies and other professional and financial services, and placed them in their own class.

However, the Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament in time and will make no further progress.

In addition, last year Mary Portas was asked to conduct an independent review into the future of British high streets on behalf of the Government.

The retail guru unveiled her findings in November along with a raft of recommendations. Among them was a move to create a separate use class for betting shops, which would automatically give local authorities more control over the number of bookies Her report states: “I also believe that the influx on betting shops, often in more deprived areas, is blighting our high streets. Circumventing legislation which prohibits the number of betting machines in a single bookmakers, I understand many are now simply opening another unit just doors down. This has led to a proliferation of betting shops often in low-income areas.

“Currently, betting shops are oddly and inappropriately in my opinion classed as financial and professional services. Having betting shops in their own class would mean that we can more easily keep check on the number of betting shops on our high streets.”

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