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MPs back call for better retail mix
7:00am Thursday 12th July 2012 in News
The majority of the district’s MPs have backed a Telegraph & Argus campaign for a change in the law to help restrict the number of betting shops in Bradford.
George Galloway, Respect MP for Bradford West, which covers the city centre, has also submitted a parliamentary question asking for more regulation of bookmakers.
Mr Galloway added: “The Government has already introduced stricter regulations on what are euphemistically described as sex encounter venues – topless bars – which effectively means that local authorities can ban them. There’s no reason that similar powers can’t be given to the authorities over bookmakers.”
It follows the launch of the Beat the Betting Blight campaign in the T&A, which calls for gambling premises to be required to apply for a special licence or be subject to a special planning category that would give local authorities the power to refuse them if it would be detrimental to the local shopping environment.
There are now ten bookies operating in the city, as well as eight amusement centres and two casinos.
Bradford East MP, Liberal Democrat David Ward, said the city centre was becoming a no go area. “Until we have shops that all parts of the community want, we are going to struggle,” he said.
Keighley and Ilkley MP Kris Hopkins said: “Although not a gambler myself, I have no particular objection to betting shops bringing new jobs to the high street. However, I would much prefer that these units were occupied by retail outlets which would be of considerably greater benefit to the local economy.”
Meanwhile, Philip Davies, Conservative MP for Shipley, said the reason why so many betting shops were opening up was because they were the only ones prepared to open new shops.
“If the Council spent more time on making Bradford a place that companies wanted to invest in and less time trying to change the law to stop investment in the city centre, then we might get somewhere,” he said.
The campaign was launched after the latest bookmakers opened on Bank Street. Councillor David Green, leader of Bradford Council, admitted the authority was unable to stop William Hill opening up its latest branch as the premises had previously been used by a financial services company which, under planning rules, is in the same category of use.
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