Labour Slam Council for Approving 41st Betting Shop

New Uxbridge Road store a "parasitic venture"

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Andy Slaughter

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Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter has condemned the decision by Hammersmith and Fulham Council to give go ahead to a new Ladbrokes betting shop on Uxbridge Road.

The betting shop, at 173 Uxbridge Road, brings the number of betting shops in the Hammersmith constituency to 41.

Andy Slaughter says that there are enough betting shops in the area already and accuses the council of failing to protect our local high streets from decline and local residents from exploitation by the big bookmaking firms.

Max Schmid, Labour candidate for Wormholt and White City in next month’s council by-election has also spoken out, saying: " Many people have told me on the doorstep that they are concerned by this decline. Our high streets are the heart of our communities: if I am elected on 7th Feb, I will be demanding that the council takes seriously its duty to ensure they are not swamped by business that put little back into a neighbourhood."

A year ago, TV’s town centre expert Mary Portas produced a report for the government saying she believed "the influx of betting shops, often in more deprived areas, is blighting our high streets".

However, says the MP, the government refused to take any action to prevent the big bookmaking firms flooding our streets with more betting shops, claiming that adequate legislation was already in place.

Last weekend, The Fairer Gambling Campaign released figures showing Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs – a modern type of Fruit Machine) in licensed betting shops are taking a disproportionate amount of money in areas of high unemployment.

Areas of high unemployment and less well-off communities appear to be most popular with the big bookmaking firms. They provide a ready customer base and there are more likely to be vacant premises at rock-bottom rents. Hammersmith has 41 betting shops and 149 Fixed Odds Betting Terminals: Chelsea & Fulham has half that number - 20 shops and 73 FOBTs; Richmond Park has 14 shops and 51 FOBTs.

Andy Slaughter says: " I know from my postbag every time a new betting shop is proposed that very many of my constituents are unhappy at the proliferation of betting shops, payday loans stores, pawnbrokers and other parasitic ventures: they contribute little to the well-being of a shopping street, economically or socially.

" It is high time that government and local councils, stepped in to reverse this trend. It is nothing to do with demand and supply – any passer-by will confirm that many betting shops are virtually empty most of the time.

"Many bookmakers justify their application for Fruit Machines by claiming that a shop wouldn’t be viable without them. There is no demand for so many of these shops – they are there because big businesses realise they can make a fast buck.

"There is a place for betting shops in our towns – but I agree with Mary Portas that the current proliferation is damaging our high streets and our communities."

January 15, 2013