Newham Council war on betting shops

Newham Council backed changes to planning laws meaning residents can object to betting shops opening in their area.

At the Annual Meeting of the Council on Thursday, Cllr Neil Wilson proposed the crackdown on the number of betting shops, saying the borough’s high streets were “blighted by the prevalence of bookmakers.”

Under current planning laws, betting shops were included in the same ‘use class’ as job centres, estate agents, bank, and restaurants meaning that they did not have to seek planning permission to open.

A national campaign called High Streets First was set up following a recent independent review by retail guru Mary Portas which called on central government to reclassify betting shops in planning law to give local authorities more control over the number of outlets in their area.

A cap on the number of betting shops per area was also proposed by Cllr Wilson.

Newham Council agreed to support this campaign by encouraging councillors to sign the High Street First petition, to write to Eric Pickles, Communities and Local Government minister, and to write to West Ham MP Lyn Brown and East Ham MP Stephen Timms for their endorsement.

Conor McAuley, executive member for regeneration and strategic planning, will also be asked to submit evidence on the prevalence of betting shops to the upcoming Government review.

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While proposing the idea, Cllr Wilson said current legislation “takes away the power of us as a community to shape our high streets and inhibits the diversity of an area”, adding that anti-social behaviour is “far too often associated with bad betting shops” while understaffing makes them “prone to attack”,

The motion was agreed by 52 members of the council while nine councillors chose not to vote.