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Apr 03 2014

@harrowlabour Open Letter to @ericpickles on Betting Shops

labour_roseDear Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP

I am writing to you regarding the growth of betting shops in the London Borough of Harrow, and am asking for your department to grant councils extra powers to help protect our local communities.

Over the past few years Harrow has seen a growth in the number of betting shops in the area, with our high streets in particular seeing a rise in the number of betting shops.

We recognise that betting shops are not inherently a bad thing, and we would not wish to demonise anyone who uses a betting shop. However, we are extremely concerned about their expansion across Harrow. The proliferation and concentration of betting shops is contributing to community decline, especially the decline in valued community assets like pubs. England’s poorest spend £13bn a year on the gambling machines in these shops according to a study published by the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, whilst research also shows that betting shops are clustered in poorer areas and are leading to problems of gambling addiction, family breakdown, and increased crime.

The South Harrow and Wealdstone areas in particular have seen a real rise in anti-social behaviour around betting shops in the area. At a time when families in Harrow are struggling to make ends meet, it is simply not right that betting shops are expanding at this rate; drawing vulnerable people in and making it even harder for some local residents to break the vicious cycle of spiraling debts.

This is a real concern for local residents, when on the doorstop people frequently tell me how concerned they are about new betting shops opening in the area, with the negative consequences it has for our local community.

At the moment, local people and councils do not have the power to stop new betting shops from opening. This means we are powerless to stop the spread of betting shops and the damage to our communities.

I am therefore asking if you could please support a proposal submitted under the Sustainable Communities Act by Hackney Council and supported by a cross-party group of 62 other councils, the Local Government Association, the Mayor of London and the Greater London Assembly. This proposal is for betting shops to be placed in their own use class. This would allow local people and councils a say over whether a new betting shop is needed in an area.

I look forward to hearing back from you,

Yours sincerely
Cllr. David Perry
Leader of the Labour Group

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4 comments

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  1. John Clement

    Sledgehammer, nut, crack -The problem is not 50p Each way on Dobbin, but te gaming machines -if each shop is limited to just 6 then there has to be lots of shops to get round this. Furthermore if a betting shop closes what makes you think it will be replaced by a pub, or other community asset. Trust a councillor to examine an issue in a totally superficial way.

  2. Hannah

    Gambling is highly addictive and thousands of shops have sprung up across London! Gambling is always subversive preying on the vulnerable.
    These shops and all adverts ought to be taxed at much higher rates than other business because the cost to society is very very high as you clearly expressed in your comment.

  3. Harrow Dude

    Take a trip into the badlands formerly know as Wealdstone and you will see the disproportionate amount of betting shops that Harrow Council have allowed to open. Correct me if I’m wrong but all of these establishments would have to make an application to open and trade in Harrow.

    Who is giving these applications the stamp of approval? I challenge Susie to address what is happening in the poorer parts of Harrow and name those responsible..

    Susie can you tell us how many betting shops there are in, and how many have been granted permission (based on application) to open in Hatch End in the last 10yrs?

  4. Susan Hall

    Yes I will ask for those details and publish. Meanwhile I have chaired a ‘bet watch group’ this is where responsible betting shops share experiences and discuss with the Council how they will address anti social behaviours etc that may be of concern to their customers and our residents. It’s not as easy to control what shops go where as you might imagine

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