July 24 2014 Latest news:
Lorraine King, News editor
Monday, March 24, 2014
Brent Council have revealed plans to clampdown on the number of betting shops, pawnbrokers and payday lenders opening in the borough following a surge in numbers.
Under the new proposals a cap of no more than four per cent for bookies and three per cent for pawnbrokers or payday lenders will be allowed in any town or neighbourhood centre.
The plans will also introduce new powers to prevent cafes, pubs and restaurants from changing to these types of businesses without planning permission. The move is in response to statistics showing that Brent has at least twice as many bookmakers as the London average, based on population.
In the last six years the amount of pawnbrokers/payday lenders in town centres have surged by 171 per cent and there are 41 per cent more bookies.
In January, residents successfully campaigned to stop an 11th gambling den opening in Kilburn High Road.
Paddy Power had tried to open a second branch in the busy thoroughfare but the bid was rejected by Brent Council.
Cllr Muhammed Butt, leader of Brent Council, said: “Brent is at the forefront of a growing battle against the increase in gambling. The increase of pawnbrokers and bookmakers in our town centres is alarming and it’s been suggested that in order to get round limits on the number of machines per shop, bookmakers are opening multiple shops in close proximity.
“I take our responsibility as a council very seriously, and that means managing clusters of businesses to create pleasant town centres that support health, social and cultural wellbeing.
“Rates of depression and attempted suicide among gambling addicts are double the national average. Gambling addicts are also more likely to go to prison as a result of criminal activity, mainly theft and fraud.
“We’re determined to get tough on over-concentrations of bookmakers and pawnbrokers and will take every step possible to create the diverse, vital town centres our residents demand.”
The cap will be introduced if it is given the green light by the Council Executive next week.
Town hall bosses also plan to place a six per cent cap on the number of fast food outlets opening within 400 metres of secondary schools and colleges.