Disappointing news about the Paddy Power application for 117-119 Stoke Newington High Street - the application was granted at a licensing committee hearing last night at the Town Hall.
Cllr Louisa Thomson spoke at the hearing on behalf of residents who had made representations against the application, pointing out the likely effect on crime and disorder in the area (we know that Ladbrokes at the end of Brighton Road is linked to anti social behaviour); the number of children going to school early in the morning that will pass by the premises; and the potential risk of vulnerable people getting into debt or other problems through gambling.
As we've explained before, the licensing regime currently gives local authorities very few powers to stop betting shops opening as the concentration of shops in one area isn't one of the issues that can be taken into account. We made sure it went on record at the meeting that, as ward councillors, we fully support the bid the Council has made under the Sustainable Communities Act which would allow us to argue against the proliferation of betting shops and give us more say over our local high streets, local businesses and local jobs.
The applicants - Paddy Power - were put under a lot of scrutiny, especially around their social responsibility policies, and the early opening time (8am, rather than the advertised 7am). On the basis of residents' representations, they had commissioned their own study into the likely effects on the area and were probed by the committee on how they would handle anti social behaviour, problem gambling and potential money laundering.
Overall, it was a very frustrating experience - betting shops give nothing back to the local economy, and we have five already in Stoke Newington.
We hope that Hackney Council's lobbying over changing this situation pays off and that our Sustainable Communities Act bid is successful.