Tuesday 8 November 2011

Local Government Association calls for curbs on betting shop clustering

A press release has been issued by the Local Government Association calling for tighter controls on betting shops. The LGA is giving evidence today to the Culture, Media & Sport Committee which is carrying out a review of the 2005 Gambling Act.

Councils must be allowed to regain control of their high streets to stop residents being blighted by even more betting shops, council leaders said today.

Concerns have been raised by councils over the negative impact to high streets from a takeover of late night bars, off licences, fast food takeaways and bookies. However, councils lack the powers to intervene and this is causing misery for local people.

For example, on one street in Hackney alone, there are eight betting shops, which increases poverty in the community. Whilst in Liverpool, high numbers of takeaways and drinking venues are impacting negatively on public health and crime. No powers currently exist for local people to cap the numbers of premises they haven't sought for their local area.

Complicated and costly planning rules are also stopping councils taking control of their high streets. With betting shops – councils can only act to stop them setting up by giving a years notice of plans – otherwise they may have to pay out compensation.

Cllr David Parsons, Chair of the LGA Environment and Housing Board will tell the Culture, Media and Sport Committee today:

"The government must give councils new powers to stop betting shops setting up if they are likely to cause a public nuisance. The same applies to places which have been taken over by fast food takeaways, strip clubs and late night bars.

"At the moment, numbers cannot be restricted and this results in crime, disorder and misery for local people. The government should look to tackle this issue.

"Costly planning rules which are tying up councils from acting at the moment must also be addressed. These concerns are shared widely and this problem is not limited to disadvantaged areas.

"We are seeing a reckless gamble with our high streets which is contributing to higher policing and health costs, in addition to reducing the quality of life for local residents".

The comments come as the CMS Committee holds a review into the Gambling Act 2005 and its effectiveness in protecting children and vulnerable people from the adverse effects of gambling.

Meanwhile the Evening Standard has published a story interviewing Camberwell & Peckham MP Harriet Harman who puts the case quite succinctly.


Robin Tudge said...

What has New Labour lackey Harman got to say about this, seeing as Blair's gang were the ones whose 2005 Gambling Act gave the nag mafia free rein to dump all over the place, Deptford notably.

Sue said...

Robin, it's irrelevant now what cock-up Labour made in 2005 – they were trying to open up opportunities for city casinos but were more than likely badly advised and very heavily lobbied by the 'nag mafia'(like it!), resulting in loopholes in the Act. The fact that the major operators were rubbing their hands in glee and busy buying up empty shops with fantastic expansion plans whilst the Act was being arranged is more than evidence of their mafioso powers. It's particularly irrelevant that David Lammy was involved – he is now making amends, having led the present campaign north of the river. But may Blair took a bung or two for Cherie?

Sue said...

A friend went to the Palace of Westminster to hear GLA giving evidence. She says she couldn't last more than an hour she was so angry. But she was fuming at GLA, who didn't appear to have a clue about the Fixed Odd Betting Machines situation (the 'crack cocaine of gambling'. They were very ill-informed or non-responsive on the subject...Jeez.

I was fuming myself at the radio – even though the Labour Party has announced its intention to get the planning laws changed it was not covered on Radio 4. Meanwhile Radio London covered it only in the most profoundly superficial way – trying to embarrass Harman, for instance...

Robin Tudge said...

Sue, it's extremely relevant what a cock-up Labour made, we have the consequences we all predicted except the hacks who passed the law - and now wring their hands at the ensuing damage.
Why are you going all out to defend them, making out how their great intentions were nonetheless compromised by the astounding hood-winkery of the nag mafia?
Labour enabled this to happen, and now they want to cash in on the public's despair at the bookies' takeover.