Hackney MPs get behind public petition to reduce the number of betting shops on high street

Padddy Power betting shop, Hackney

Padddy Power betting shop, Hackney - Credit: Archant

A public campaign to garner support for a council’s proposal to stop the number of betting shops on high streets “getting out of hand” has been launched.

Hackney Council have set up a petition lobbying Eric Pickles, secretary of state for communities and local government, to grant it the power to subject gambling venues to new planning restrictions. Bookies would then be assigned a unique classification - as is the case with nightclubs - allowing councillors and residents to have a say over every betting shop application, which they currently have no power to do.

The petition states that the “proliferation and clustering of betting shops is getting out of hand” and “many are cynically targeting deprived communities, feeding off vulnerable people, fuelling addictions and other problems and adding to the difficulties of already hard-pressed families”.

The petition has attracted support from Hackney’s MPs.

Meg Hillier, MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch, said: “I applaud Hackney Council for leading the way on this issue. I have nothing against betting shops per se but having too many in any single high street is not good for an area. We have around 70 bookies in Hackney, more than any other borough and it’s time there was local control of where and how many are allowed to open.”

She added that bookies were disproportionately present in areas with the poorest people.

Diane Abbott, MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, said:“The current situation is a sad indictment of this government’s failure to curb these blights on vulnerable communities. However, I’m delighted to see the engagement of local people in combating the growing number of betting shops in Hackney.”

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The petition follows on from five years of campaigning by the Council to crack down on gambling establishments for more than five years under the Sustainable Communities Act (SCA) – legislation which allows authorities to propose statutory powers to solve problems in their communities.

Under existing legislation, such establishments are classified as A2 premises – the same category as financial and professional services – which means they can be opened in former banks, estate agencies or employment agencies, as well as pubs and eateries, without planning permission.

In May, government deregulation is also expected to remove the need to apply for permission to take over an even wider range of premises.

n. To support the petition, visit www.change.org/petitions/eric-pickles-mp-help-councils-stop-betting-shops-taking-over-our-high-streets.