Ken calls for powers to curb bookies in Hackney

Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone visited a new betting shop in Hackney to voice his concerns about their proliferation in London

Ken Livingstone joined Hackney Mayor Jules Pipe today (September 9) to call for an end to the rise in the number of betting shops on the streets of Hackney.

The former London Mayor, a candidate for Labour’s 2012 Mayoral nomination, said there needed to be a change in the law to give local councils greater powers to determine what shops are on their high street.

He was speaking outside a new Paddy Power shop, which opens this Saturday (September 11) in Mare Street, on the site of the former Railway Tavern pub.

It will become the ninth bookies on Mare Street, just yards from a Coral which was built on the site of the old Town Hall, with 65 in total in Hackney.

Mr Livingstone said: “I want to work with the London councils to say they could have far greater power to determine the nature of their local shopping centres.

“When they decide they’ve got all the betting shops they need, they can make sure there’s no more.

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“It’s not just a Hackney problem.

“All over London the poorest areas are getting more and more betting shops and pawn shops.”

Any premise which has planning permission as a drinking establishment can convert to use for ‘financial services’ which betting shops are classed as, alongside banks and building societies.

Jules Pipe said: “I do get so angry about these, it’s an insult that the old Town Hall is a Coral and the fact that this is going to be the first thing you see coming out of Hackney station.

“That’s very sad and that makes me angry that the proliferation of them is sucking the variety out of the high street and sucking the money out of people’s pockets because there are so many of them.”

Darren Haines, a Paddy Power spokesperson said: “To our mind, Ken and certain people should do some research.

“There are less betting shops in Hackney now than prior to the 2005 Gambling Act.

“We work very hard with councils in their planning and licensing to be responsible.”