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Betting shops face tougher tests to open in Newham

A punter tries out a gambling machine. A punter tries out a gambling machine.

Friday, May 2, 2014
3:11 PM

The number of betting shops in Newham could be set to stall after the government announced plans to give councils more powers to prevent them from opening.

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The proposals, announced by Planning Minister Nick Boleson Wednesday, will mean that betting shops will no longer be in the same planning category as bank and estate agents, meaning planning permission will be needed in order to get approval for change of use.

People who want to bet more than £50 at fixed odds betting terminals will have to pay over the counter and applications for betting shop licences will have to show that they are complying with social-responsibility codes.

But the Mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales, claims the changes are “too little too late”.

“We already have 86 betting shops so while the proposals are okay, it doesn’t really help us because the problem already exists,” he said. “These measures should have been introduced a long time ago.”

Sir Robin suggested that the government should enable councils to turn betting shops back into other uses.

“I am not against gambling but there are so many of these betting shops in the high street and it stops other shops from coming in,” he said.

But Conservative mayoral candidate Stefan Mrozinski said he supports the government reforms.

“I think they are definitely a very good idea and long overdue,” he said. “Most people in the borough are concered about the proliferation of betting shops, especially around East Ham.”

Mr Mrozinski added that combating Newham’s betting shops was one of his election pledges.

Newham Council rejected William Hill’s attempt to open its 19th betting shop early this year. It was also the first council in the country to use a legal cause to reject a licence application.

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