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Payday lender in bid to open store in city

change of use: Plans have been submitted to change the Foot Locker shop into a payday loan store.Below Coun John Swindells

change of use: Plans have been submitted to change the Foot Locker shop into a payday loan store.Below Coun John Swindells

Plans for a payday loan company to open a store in Preston has been described as “the last thing” the city needs.

Oakam Loans, a firm which provides short term loans with interest rates up to 676.6 per cent APR, wants to open in Friargate.

The firm has submitted plans to Preston Council for the Foot Locker premises.

The deputy leader of Preston Council Coun John Swindells said: “It’s the last thing that Preston needs at the moment.”

Coun Swindells said the council wants the government to reclassify buildings so the council will be protected from planning applications for stores like this.

The current number of payday lenders, cash convertors and pawn brokers in Preston city centre currently stands at more than 10.

Coun Matthew Brown, cabinet member for community engagement and inclusion said: “I just can’t see how it is a good thing.

“If you go back 10 years there didn’t appear to be any of these organisations, there’s also the Internet or over the telephone, it’s not a good situation really.”

Councillors have previously raised concerns about payday lending companies and the need to provide an alternative.

In October the Evening Post reported that the council had blocked access to payday loan firms on all its computers.

The council is also looking at setting up a credit union to offer a cheaper alternative to the sky-high interest rates of quick-fix money lenders.

Coun Swindells added: “Thankfully the credit union will be up and running early in the New Year”

A spokesman for Oakam Loans said: “Oakam is currently reviewing a number of potential store locations and sites across the country in line with plans to expand our successful London- and Midland based brand nationally.

However, at this point in the process I am not able to comment on specific towns or cities yet.”

The firm proposes to open from 9am until 7pm Monday to Saturday and from 10am to 5pm on Sunday and Bank Holidays.

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