“Cut High Street bookies” - MP Diane Abbott call after Mary Portas report

PUBLISHED: 09:39 24 January 2012

MP Diane Abbott has backed Mary “Queen of Shops” recommendations and urged the government to take action over struggling high-streets and the rocketing number of betting shops.

Retail expert Mary Portas came up with 28 recommendations to help reinvigorate the British high street, in a government commissioned review.

Ms Abbott, the MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington supports her idea to put betting shops in a separate use class of their own for planning decisions.

There are around 90 bookies in the borough and even the old Town Hall has been converted into a betting shop.

“Londoners are seeing their pubs, banks and independent shops close and bookies opening up in their place without the need for any planning permission,” said Ms Abbott.

Ms Abbott does not have any moral objection to betting: “Rather my concern is that these shops put little back into the community and can take advantage of areas with high levels of unemployment and poverty.

“They can also cause increased levels of crime including begging, drug crimes and burglaries.

“There are streets in London that look more like Las Vegas without any of the glitz or glamour.

“At a time when people in Hackney are hard pressed, people most need independent financial advice, yet they find virtual roulette wheels instead of a bank manager.”

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