Bookmakers ‘blighting’ Newham’s high streets

Betting shops will cause further misery for vulnerable people in Newham if rules governing them are relaxed, the council says.

A group of MPs has recommended that laws should be changed to allow more gaming machines on premises.

It comes after Forest Gate residents gathered to protest against the opening of a new Paddy Power in Green Street. Bookies are currently allowed no more than four machines in every shop.

But the recommendation has attracted short shrift from Newham Council.

Cllr Neil Wilson, executive member of equalities and social inclusion, said: “Increasing a problem isn’t solving a problem.

“The committee accepted there is a problem of clustering which is blighting our high streets. This is not the solution and will simply lead to an increase in activity among the existing shops.”

The council said the major bookmakers take more than 40 per cent of their profits from gaming machines.

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Forest Gate resident and lawyer Shabaz Ahmed is leading a campaign against the increase in bookmakers.

Residents were dismayed after Paddy Power’s arrival in Green Street took the number to four.

He said: “Betting shops are using existing planning laws to their advantage.

“Under current legislation they have the same use class as banks and estate agents, taking power away from the residents of Newham who have to bear the brunt of their socio-economic impact.”