Area ‘too vulnerable for new betting shop’

[from Tottenham Journal]

Area ‘too vulnerable for new betting shop’
07 November 2007

AN UPRISING by residents over an application for a betting shop in Green Lanes has forced Haringey Council into a historic decision under new gambling laws.

Last Thursday the council rejected betting company Metrobet’s application for a licence for a shop in Green Lanes in a landmark ruling.

The hearing was the first under the new Gambling Act 2005 which came into force in September.

But Mario Petrou, a campaign co-ordinator, said: “We’re safe from more bookmakers given the misfortunes of our conditions. But other areas are not safeguarded.”

In rejecting the application, the council spokesman said “the weight of evidence submitted by local residents” was a deciding factor.

The high number of mental health services in the area, along with strong links with crime, and the risk of “vulnerable ethnic minority residents” being overexposed to gambling were all key to the decision.

Campaigners made an impassioned plea for the council to reject the application, highlighting the effect of new premises on children and vulnerable adults.

There are three primary schools close to the shop in Green Lanes and many teenagers live in the nearby streets.

Many vulnerable adults also use mental health services nearby, with a high number of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants in the area.

Ian Sygrave, chairman of the Harringay Ladder Community Safety Partnership, said: “They’ve already taken a gamble to get where they are and are likely to take a further gamble. They don’t have anyone to speak on their behalf.”

Residents were not able to argue under the new act that the high number of gambling shops in the area was a good reason for refusing the application.

Reacting to the unexpected decision, campaigner Hugh Flouch, of the Harringay community website, said: “I applaud the council for a considered decision in difficult circumstances which took into account the particular nature of the local area against the licensing act objectives.”

But Mr Petrou stressed that it had only been possible because of the area’s deprivation.

“We won against the odds. But it’s a hollow victory if we don’t act as a borough to make representations to the Gambling Commission and the Government,” he said.


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