June 18 2013 Latest news:
by Luke Jacobs
Saturday, July 28, 2012
Fed up Forest Gate residents took to the streets to protest against the opening of another bookmakers.
Irish betting firm Paddy Power has recently started work on a new premises in Green Street.
Campaigners were angry to discover that the company quietly won its appeal against Newham Council’s refusal for a change of use in October last year.
They believe the volume of betting shops - there are now four on Green Street alone - takes advantage of the area’s vulnerable residents and increases antisocial behaviour.
Lawyer and Forest Gate resident Shabaz Ahmed said a change in the law was needed to prevent them opening up at such a rate
He said: “Green Street is about a mile long and there’s one every 400 to 500 yards.
“They attract antisocial behaviour. They are not wanted by this community and a lot of people are angry that they are taking over the area.
Residents and worshippers at the nearby Green Street Mosque have signed a 600-name petition and Mr Ahmed has written to East Ham MP Stephen Timms.
He added: “People from less well-off areas are more susceptible to getting addicted to betting shops than those from well-off areas.”
Mr Ahmed said the protests would continue until Westminster took notice of the campaign.
Newham Cllr Neil Wilson, executive member for equalities and social inclusion, called on the government to close the planning law loophole.
Betting shops are currently classed alongside banks and estate agents, making it easy for retail premises to switch uses.
He said: “We are trying to combat antisocial behaviour across Newham.
“These premises, increasing in number due to the lack of proper planning controls that we have, are often under-staffed. “This results in their staff members being prone to attacks, when robberies take place. This is clearly unacceptable.” Paddy Power was unable to comment before the Recorder went to press.