May 6, 2014 10:55 AM


Communities will get greater protection to prevent high streets being taken over by excessive numbers of bookies after tougher powers were announced to act on betting shop clustering.

The Government has listened to repeated calls by Lib Dems and is consulting on plans to place betting shops in their own planning classification to stop them taking over empty shops without the need for planning permission. In future, betting shops will have to seek permission to open new premises.

The Government is also proposing that betting firms make clear to councils how new premises will meet social responsibility requirements in relation to local circumstances. Anyone wishing to spend more than £50 on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) will need authorisation from betting shop managers.

The Local Government Association, which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, said the proposals will help areas desperate to protect high streets at risk of being over-run by betting shops. It will also help councils protect residents at particular risk of harm from problem gambling and FOBTs.

Lib Dem Group Leader of Cardiff Council Judith Woodman said:

"Communities and councils have consistently called for tougher powers to address problems caused by the proliferation of betting shops and FOBTs so I'm delighted that Lib Dems in Government are taking action. This will be a significant step in the right direction. I urge the Government to implement these changes urgently."

Local Lib Dem MP for Cardiff Central Jenny Willott said:

"The Lib Dems are not anti-bookies; we understand that betting shops can be an important part of local communities that create jobs for local people. However, I also know how concerned lots of people are by clusters of betting shops taking over their local high street. There are also fears that people can lose huge amounts of money very quickly through Fixed Odds Betting Terminals, and may end up turning to payday lenders and loan sharks to pay off debts or fund their gambling. I'm really pleased that the Government is listening to the concerns of local communities and standing up for our high streets."

Liberal Democrat Communities Minister Stephen Williams said:

"Across the country many people are concerned about the explosion in the number of betting shops in some high streets. We are determined to build a stronger economy and a fairer society with healthy and diverse high streets that aren't dominated by betting shops, this is why the government is now giving councils tough new powers to prevent the proliferation of betting shops in their area."

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