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Odds on for a fight over three betting shop applications in Walton
Three betting shops planned for Walton are likely to produce more crime, disorder and gambling addictions, objectors have claimed.
Coral and Paddy Power have submitted betting premises applications for sites in Church Street and the High Street, while Betfred has applied for a change of use from retail to financial and professional services for the former kitchen shop near Halifax.
Paddy Power wants to take over 63 High Street, which is less than 50m from Ashley Primary School and within close proximity to a crossing used by parents and children each day.
Objectors said the application for the premises went against an aim of the Gambling Act 2005, which relates to protecting children and vulnerable people from being harmed or exploited by gambling.
In a lengthy letter to Elmbridge Council’s licensing department, Councillor Chris Sadler, representing Walton Central, highlighted a number of issues linked to the applications.
Coun Sadler said: “While Walton is generally perceived as an affluent town, there are pockets of relative deprivation, and recent welfare reforms have made conditions for such people noticeably worse.
“Introducing more betting shops into central Walton at this time is likely to send a message out that betting is an acceptable way to try to overcome your financial problems, while in reality it is likely to make things worse.”
Coun Sadler said he and other ward councillors were concerned granting the betting shop licences would lead to “conflict with the crime prevention objective” of the 2005 act.
This week, the Local Government Association (LGA) announced the launch of a taskforce which will see councils and bookmakers addressing concerns around high street betting shop clustering.
On April 1, the LGA chaired a meeting of the Betting Commission with Betfred, William Hill, Coral, Ladbrokes and Paddy Power all taking part.
The meeting was the first time the five betting firms and councils discussed concerns about the influx of betting shops to high streets.
Tony Page, LGA licensing spokesman and commission chairman, said: “The launch of this commission is a significant landmark for councils desperate to protect communities from the damage that can be caused to high streets from clustering and to residents from the harm of problem gambling.
“Councils are not anti-bookies but are frustrated by the current licensing system which leaves them powerless to act on community concerns and limit the number of betting shops opening up in their areas.”
If the three proposals are given the go ahead, Walton would have five betting shops within a 1km radius, excluding the existing William Hill store in Hersham Road.
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