Calls for action to prevent rise in betting shops
- Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Ima
New betting shops will be banned from Islington’s high streets if the borough’s Lib Dem group get their way.
A scheme to stop the spread of bookies, which they say have rocketed in the borough over the past decade, has been put forward by the Islington branch of the party and will now be debated at the nationwide conference next month.
In May, new laws were introduced by the Government which allow betting shops to open in some existing units without planning permission – under the Lib Dem proposals local authorities would have more power to stop new premises opening.
There are now 86 bookies in Islington, and Islington Council have found at least 15 cafes and social clubs with illegal betting machines in them.
Cllr Terry Stacy, leader of Islington’s Lib Dem group, said: “Local councillors should be given the powers to decide whether or not to allow more gambling venues in our communities. It’s time to claim our streets back from the avalanche of betting shops and arcades.
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“We strongly support the campaign to give planning powers back to councils. As well as making for better decisions that take local circumstances into account, it would also allow residents a voice too.
“It was wrong that the former Labour government allowed this gambling free-for-all and it was wrong that Conservatives in this government insisted on taking powers away from councils on deciding who moves into empty shops.”
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In July, the council said it was beginning legal proceedings to overturn the new Government guidelines.
Speaking at the time, Cllr James Murray, Islington Council’s executive member for housing and development, said: “In Islington we’ve got firm plans for stopping too many betting shops and payday lenders, for protecting local jobs, and for building affordable housing. But the government’s changes are undermining what we’re trying to do by allowing developers to bypass these plans in a reckless free-for-all.”