Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Sustainability of Deptford High Street

Tomorrow night Lewisham's licensing committee will consider the application by Betfred for a licence to open a betting shop on Deptford High Street, in the premises of the former Halifax.

If granted, it will be the eighth betting shop on the High Street, five of which are clustered over the space of a few hundred metres.

There are three more betting shops on the Evelyn Triangle, making 11 in total within a few minutes' walk of our town centre. Many people believe we do not need this many bookies; that the ones we already have attract enough disorder and petty crime, and that diversity and sustainability are central to the survival of our high street as a viable shopping district.

Ten people took the time and trouble to write personal objections to the application, and almost 700 have signed a petition against it. But all this strength of feeling and community cohesion will potentially be disregarded.

Although companies such as Betfred and Paddy Power make obvious targets, being the most recent arrivals in our neighbourhood, demonising them is not the answer. We need to look more closely at the law and its implications to try and understand why betting shops are the ones with the upper hand in this situation, and to try and work out how best we could direct our efforts to have this situation reversed.

Unfortunately it seems that initial attempts by Green Party representatives over in Ladywell to have these concerns addressed through the Sustainable Communities Act have been rebuffed somewhat. Sue reports on how the government thinks that local authorities already have sufficient powers to prevent clustering of betting shops, and is going to help them to apply these powers. If that's really the case, then get a bloody move on, I say!

The other Sue over on Crosswhatfields has written about her attempts to find out why none of the statutory authorities seems to have objected to this licence application, given the extent of petty crime, anti-social behaviour and general disorder that swirls around the existing premises. Except it's not the right kind of disorder, she found out in a rather Kafka-esque telephone call with the local Met licensing officer.

The posts might be long, and they do get a bit sweary in the middle, but they are well worth reading to get some idea of the extent to which the law really is an ass. You will feel the pain and understand the reasons for the ranting, and will probably feel like doing the same yourself when you've read them.


MT said...

Given the protracted future plans for "Improvement" and Development of the High Street, the appointment in the past of a council officer specifically FOR the High Street, the MASSES of money awarded the High Street in the past starting from the Hessletine days of City Challenge and so on ...How can the council comply in undoing all this effort, time and resources to say nothing of the contribution of human hearts, minds and commitment to the area. It only reinforces the impresssion that people in Deptford have of the way Lewisham council perceive them. It undoes years of local people's hard work, aspiration and dedication as well as the council's own publically declared ambition for the area

MT said...
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MT said...

Just called council Licensing for an explanation of what is covered by them versus the Planning Department; rules around the deadline for submission of objections + petitions and the grounds on which of objections against licensing a betting shop can be made. Ms G said there IS some change of condition re:Halifax bank premises that will have to go through Planning.....!?

Sue said...

Hi Dame,
Have now removed swear words from said post on mother's advice/orders (is there a difference?)...

Also have posted results of Hearing, but late I'm afraid since I had to see about looking after a cat for some friends who are going on holiday this morning.

I apologise for ranting in previous posts, it makes it difficult for fellow bloggers to recommend.

Anyway, there are some very interesting developments from tonight. 1, that we might appeal against the licence, 2/ that there is planning to come and that it could be significantly more effective...(but we have heard that before, n'est ce pas?)...

Given that every party concerned is reading all I write, I'll say no more.

Anonymous said...

The council should vote no on the grounds that there are too many betting shops on this High Street already.