Government to decide if 13th gambling den can open in Kilburn High Road
PUBLISHED: 11:48 22 April 2016 | UPDATED: 11:48 22 April 2016
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Campaigners fighting plans against the opening of a 13th gambling den in Kilburn High Road face an agonising wait while the government makes a final decision.
Betting shop chain Paddy Power Betfair called in a planning inspectorate after Camden Council rejected its application to open a second branch to add to the 12 other gambling premises on the busy thoroughfare.
A subsequent hearing organised by the government department was attended by Paddy Power and residents who opposed the plans with a final decision expected to be revealed in a few weeks.
Kilburn High Road is known locally as “The Strip” because of its gambling dens which campaigners claim targets the most vulnerable people in the area.
Josie Warshaw, a spokeswoman for residents’ association Brent Eleven Streets (BEST) that has vehemently opposed the plans, said: “We all spoke up, but we have no idea how it went.
“We’re waiting to see what happens and hope it goes in our favour. It’s like having an exam and not knowing the result as the inspector has to be completely neutral.”
However she said the questioning by the female inspectorate did not appear to favour local residents.
“A lot of the questions were quite skewed, like ‘how will you increase footfall’, ‘is this shop needed’ and ‘is it providing jobs’ which is a rubbish argument because most shops provide jobs,” she said.
“We don’t need them to put footfall for another betting shop, the shops needed in this area are retail shops. Paddy Power said they didn’t have a shop on that end of the high street, but we use the whole high street and we see lots of betting shops all the way up it. I don’t think the questions really thought about how it might affect local people.”
Paddy Power Betfair had unsuccessfully tried to open a second branch on the Brent side of Kilburn High Road but after this was reject by the council they switched to the Camden side.
A law limiting bookmakers to four fixed odds betting terminals (FOTB’s) per branch, considered to be one of the most addictive and expensive forms of gambling, is believed to have led to businesses opening multiple branches in the same area.
A planning inspectorate spokesman said: “Planning inspectors are independent and impartial. They make decisions based on the evidence submitted at the time of the appeal, taking account of current planning policy, guidance and legislation.
“Anyone who has an interest in the appeal has the opportunity to comment either in writing or at a hearing.
Inspectors will ask questions in order to clarify evidence already given or submitted in the appeal.”