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Government urged to give local councils more power
A survey asking people their opinions on betting shops has added further weight to the Telegraph & Argus Beat the Betting Blight campaign.
More than two-thirds of people are against existing rules that allow betting shops to take over building society premises and banks without planning permission, according to research by the Local Government Association.
The poll found more than three-quarters of people instead want central Government to give councils the powers they have been calling for to improve their high streets in the interests of their communities.
The “clustering” of high numbers of similar premises was cited as having a negative impact on the vibrancy of a local high street and half of people thought bookies were of major concern when found in such clusters.
The LGA is calling for the Government to create a new “super use” planning class into which a local authority could place any type of premises which are posing a local challenge. Councils could then attach special controls to that umbrella class.
This move is in line with the T&A’s campaign which calls for a change in the law to help restrict the number of betting shops in Bradford.
The campaign 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.
Sir Merrick Cockell, chairman of the LGA, said: “This opinion poll shows local people want Government to give councils the powers to tackle unsightly clusters of sex shops, bookies and takeaways that can blight so many of our high streets.
“People want action so the places they live, work and shop can be revitalised to reflect how they want them to look and feel.”
Councillor David Green, leader of Bradford Council, admitted it was unable to stop William Hill opening up its latest branch in Bradford as the premises had previously been used by a financial services company which, under planning rules, is in the same category of use. But he said the Council was looking at ways to intervene directly in the development of the district’s high streets rather than simply relying on planning to ensure a greater retail mix.