Diane Abbott supports residents’ petition against new betting shop in Clapton

Campaigners are calling on the council to stop a betting shop opening on a Hackney road, where a previous bookmakers was a constant source of misery for residents.

More than 400 people, including Hackney North MP Diane Abbott, have signed a petition to prevent Paddy Power opening a new branch on Clarence Road, Clapton.

Organiser Neil Burgess, 57, chairman of the Clapton Square User Group, said there had been a marked improvement in the street’s character since the previous bookmakers closed in April.

He said: “Everything has been a lot calmer, and a lot nicer. You used to get a big group of people standing outside the shop on the corner, blocking the road, smoking and drinking.

“It just isn’t a nice thing for anyone, especially parents with children, to have to walk through that all the time. They would hassle people for change as they went past.

“We are trying to restore peace and calm to the area, particularly after the riots, and having another betting shop open just wouldn’t help.

“We have no objection to people gambling, we just don’t want to bring the trouble back to the street.”

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Diane Abbott MP said: “I’m opposed to these plans for yet another betting shop in Hackney.

“They take money from the poorest, creating yet more problems, and I think there are many different types of businesses that people in Hackney would like to see instead.

“So many parts of Hackney are improving, including Clarence Road, and another betting shop here would send the wrong signal and is a step backwards.

“The number of betting shops locally is something that I have campaigned on for many years in Parliament.

“I think laws should be strengthened so that it’s easier for Hackney council to reject applications. I have signed an online petition against the proposals and I urge others to do so too.”

Consultation on the licensing application closed on Monday, when several of the petitioners delivered their message to the town hall.

The council said it was unable to comment on an open application, but had campaigned forcefully against new bookmakers in the past.