Haringey Council joins campaign against betting shops

Haringey Independent: The campaign aims to halt the spread of betting shops in UK high streets and curb the related financial issues heavy gamblers face The campaign aims to halt the spread of betting shops in UK high streets and curb the related financial issues heavy gamblers face

Haringey Council is one of dozens of local authorities campaigning for a change in planning laws to stop the spread of betting shops.

The authority is demanding the Government re-categorises bookmakers to stop clusters in town centres.

Betting shops are currently classed in the same category as banks and estate agents and local councils are instructed that they must “aim to permit” new premises under current laws.

Campaigners are now asking the Government to put betting shops in their own category, making it easier for planning authorities to refuse planning permission for change of use.

A spokesperson from campaign group Local Works said: “The clustering of betting shops – particularly in poorer areas – has become a significant problem for many communities in recent years.

“The proliferation of betting shops has caused an increase in gambling addiction, leading to family and social breakdown as well as an increase in crime.

“It is great to see 63 councils joining forces and using the Sustainable Communities Act to address this – now government has to sit up and listen.”

Last year in Haringey, £80million was gambled in fixed odds betting terminals alone, leading to losses of £15million - the equivalent of £1,867 for every user in the borough.

Matt Zarb-Cousin, from the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, said: “Whilst putting betting shops back in their own use class is a welcome step in the right direction, at best it will stem the problem of fixed odds betting terminals rather than solve it.

"To be fully effective, planning reforms should also include a demand test.

“Councils should not have to aim to permit new betting shops either, and they should not be subjected to legal challenges when they object.

"Alongside planning reforms, the Government should consider reducing the maximum stake on fixed odds betting terminals to £2 per spin. This would stop bookmakers opening multiple outlets on the high street.”

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