Willesden residents say 'no' to new betting shop

Image of Merkur Slots

How Merkur Slots adult gaming centre will look if approved by Brent Council - Credit: Colin Bridges

Locals are urging the council to reject a new adult gaming centre in Willesden.

Cashino Gaming, now rebranded as Merkur Slots, hopes to replace the former William Hill betting shop in the High Road.

Brent Council will decide at a council meeting on April 29 whether to approve the application.

Sonia Locke, planning representative of the Willesden Green Residents’ Association, said gambling shops have had a “negative impact” on the High Road and the community. 

“Willesden Green has a problem with anti-social behaviour and street drinking which seem to gravitate around these adult gaming hotspots," she said.

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"Opening yet another place such as this on the High Road will simply worsen problems we already have.”

Sonia raised concerns that the Convent of Jesus and Mary RC Infant School and St Mary Magdalen’s Junior School, are nearby.

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She said: “We need children to aspire to great things, not just to reaching the age where they can go inside these places.” 

She said the proposed 24-hour opening of the shop is “absolutely inappropriate”, given the close proximity of residential flats and has witnessed people coming out of these places “clearly disturbed or intoxicated”.

“It's really not fair on the residents and shopkeepers, especially in such difficult times where many are struggling financially," she said.

"Our High Road needs a positive push, which definitely is not this." 

A Merkur Slots spokesperson said it is an "excellent opportunity to bring this important site, a closed venue in the heart of the town centre, back into commercial use".

They said the centre, which would be sub-divided to create extra retail floorspace, would create new jobs and "much-needed investment in the high street at a challenging time". 

“Our approach to amenity and crime is without compromise," they added.

"Our commitment to being a socially responsible operator has meant we have never had a license revoked.

"Our adult gaming centres are where people come to have a flutter with their spare change, have a game of bingo and enjoy their favourite pastime and we look forward to playing an active role in the local community.

"We remain hopeful of a positive outcome and will continue to work closely with Brent Council.”

A Brent council spokesperson said the planning application is currently being evaluated following a consultation with residents. If recommended for approval, it will be considered by the council's planning committee in May.

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