Hackney Citizen

Time to shift odds from betting shops to Hackney communities, says Ken Livingstone

Former London mayor visits Mare Street and speaks out over proliferation of bookmakers in the borough

Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone visited Mare Street today, calling for greater power for local councils to oppose the opening of more bookies. Photo: Figen Gunes

Ken Livingstone visited Mare Street today calling for greater powers for local councils to oppose the opening of new betting shops. Mare Street alone has nine betting shops, whilst Hackney is home to a total 70 such establishments, one of the highest number of any borough in the capital.
 
“Local councils should be able to have a say in what’s on offer on their local high street,” said Mr Livingstone in front of the old Railway Tavern pub, which is being turned into a Paddy Power bookmakers.
 
Since the previous government’s Gambling Act of 2005 relaxed licensing laws, betting shops have sprung up all over the capital. There are now around 400 more betting shops in London that there were 10 years ago.
 
Mayor of Hackney Jules Pipe said: “Administrative problems are being exploited by the big bookmaker chains, who keep opening more and more of these shops.”
 
“We need to implement laws similar to the special policy area we have for pubs and clubs in Shoreditch, so that no further applications can be approved. We want the powers to be able to stop this,” said Mayor Pipe.
 
Ken Livingstone, who has thrown his hat into the ring for the Labour candidacy in the 2012 London mayoral election, said: “I’d like to work with the London boroughs to give them much more widespread powers to make sure their local highstreets reflect the needs of local communities.”

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3 Responses »

  1. Good luck to Mayor Pipe and Ken Livingstone, Hackney already has enough better shops, which are a mug’s game anyway.

    A grassroots campaign by local people opposed to the shops is needed as well as visits from politicans, though.

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  2. The Community Safety & Social Inclusion Scrutiny Commission completed a short review last year about the concentration of betting shops in Hackney. It learned that the existing planning and licensing regulatory frameworks were not sufficient to limit the spread of betting shops and their number continues to grow. Hackney has 64 betting shops, which is three times the national average for a local authority area. Furthermore, Mare Street alone has nine, Stamford Hill has five, and they cluster in areas of deprivation.

    Whilst councillors acknowledged that bookmakers are highly regulated and generally responsibly managed, they concluded that letting betting shops dominate a street did not help to improve the character of a neighbourhood, nor provide local residents with a diversity of retail provision. The Commission fully supported the submission to the previous government as part of the council’s response to the Sustainable Communities Act (which requested suggestions for how the law should be changed to give councils more scope to make their areas better places to live), and made a number of recommendations aimed at the licensing and planning teams and the Hackney Financial Inclusion Group.

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  3. But if there were 70 pubs in Hackney, all doing a roaring trade, that would be good in Jules’ or Ken’s books,right?
    Hackney has one HUGE supermarket plonked right in the middle of it, creating thousands of traffic movements per day (not terrible green, that) and Jules either loves the clone town model or Hackney hasn’t enough money to fight the lawyers of Tesco plc. No wonder there are so many empty shops and pubs (undermined by cheap supermarket booze), which Bookmakers are filling nicely.
    Well, the needs of the local community seems to be bigger and bigger hypermarkets with their wonderful tax efficient subsidiaries in small offshore countries, and helpful prices thanks to suppliers being screwed into the ground, so High Streets seem pretty redundant now. Was Jules in favour of the massive Tesco town expansion in Morning Lane???

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