Judge overturns Newham Council betting shop decision

The premises in Green Street in Upton Park that was the subject of the court case.

The premises in Green Street in Upton Park that was the subject of the court case. - Credit: Archant

Another betting shop has been given the green light to open up after Newham Council lost their legal battle against gambling chain Paddy Power today.

District Judge Paul Goldspring overturned a decision by the council’s licensing sub-committee to reject a bid from the bookies in February who wanted to take over a premises at 297 Green Street, Upton Park.

The betting industry has been watching the week-long test case at Thames Magistrates Court as it would have empowered local authorities to reject further planning applications.

The borough currently has 81 betting shops and now it will have the second highest number in London after Westminster.

The council based its rejection on a belief that the rising number of betting shops on high streets is making them hotspots for crime and anti-social behaviour and the majority of the shop’s profits would have been made from Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) as opposed to traditional gambling but Paddy Power strongly rejected the claims.

Cllr Ian Corbett, executive member for environment and infrastructure who sat on the committee, said: “We are disappointed and will decide what happens next.

“The law needs to be changed so that our residents do not have to suffer anti-social behaviour connected to betting shops.”

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The Campaign for Fairer Gambling, who supported Newham Council, also backed a change in the law calling the Gambling Commission, set up in the 2005 Gambling Act, “unfit for purpose”.

But during the trial Darrell Butterworth, a licensing consultant who works with betting chains the court there was “no evidence” that betting shops cause or attract anti-social behaviour.

Concluding, District Judge Paul Goldspring said: “On the evidence presented to me on this appeal, it has not proved that the granting of the licence would not be reasonably consistent with the objective of preventing crime and disorder and there I disagree with the decision of the sub-committee and, in the light of the evidence before me in this appeal it was wrong.”

A spokesperson for Paddy Power said: “Paddy Power makes a positive contribution to local communities in which it operates.

“Paddy Power is a responsible operator that takes proactive measures to offer a safe and responsible leisure experience for its customers and the community.”

Paddy Power has also agreed to donate the costs awarded to them to Newham-based charities and the bookies said they seek a meeting with Newham Council and East Ham MP Stephen Timms to discuss how best to spend the money.