Councils want to act on community concerns

The LGA is calling for councils to be given more powers to help stop the spread of betting shops across town centre high streets, like this one in Westcliff Drive, Layton.
The LGA is calling for councils to be given more powers to help stop the spread of betting shops across town centre high streets, like this one in Westcliff Drive, Layton.
0
Have your say

Fresh calls were today made for more powers to stop the proliferation of betting shops across Blackpool.

The Local Government Association (LGA) says English councils must be given the same powers as Scotland to tackle betting shop clustering and the spread of high-stake fixed odds betting terminals.

Earlier this year, The Gazette highlighted the high number of bookies which have opened in the resort.

Council figures showed 42 betting shops in Blackpool, 20 of them in the FY1 postcode area, which includes Bloomfield, Talbot and Claremont wards – some of Blackpool’s most deprived areas.

The LGA wants licensing laws to be updated to allow councils to take health issues associated with problem gambling, and anti-social behaviour concerns into account when considering applications for betting shops.

Coun John Jones, who represents Bloomfield ward on Blackpool Council, said: “I hope the LGA will lobby the Government and do something about it.

“The amount of bookies on the high street is far too high, and they seem to be focusing on areas of high deprivation.

“But it is about having a moral duty, as well as running a business.”

Blackpool Lib Dem councillor Douglas Green said: “Local authorities have been fighting hard to ensure the viability of the nation’s high streets, but our battle with the betting shops has been thwarted by the lack of tough regulations and the toothless court system.

“Both I and the local Liberal Democrats hope Blackpool Council will re-double its efforts in support of this fight.

A spokesman for the Association of British Bookmakers said: “Betting shops in Blackpool employ 250 people and have been trading for many years. Bookmakers do not locate shops on the basis of a particular stake on one or two gaming machine products, they are opened on the same basis as every other type of retailer – in response to customer demand.

“With 84 per cent of all betting shops located in highly populated commercial areas, of course there will more betting shops in the centre of Blackpool than the less populated areas close by, as it is one of the UK’s major leisure destinations. Nonetheless, there is only one betting shop for every 3,500 people and our shops face strong competition from many amusement arcades offering similar products.

“Independent research published earlier this month shows the average stake played on a betting shop gaming machine is only £5.13 and only three per cent of all games ever reach a stake of £100.”