Betting shop plan is rejected

Leisuretime Amusements on Market Street, Preston
Leisuretime Amusements on Market Street, Preston
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An attempt to bring another betting shop to Preston has been blocked by planning bosses.

Members of the city council’s planning committee went against a recommendation from officers, rejecting the application by Coral Racing Ltd to convert a city centre property into a bookmakers.

Coral had lodged plans to convert Leisuretime Amusements on Market Place into a licenced betting office, but councillors voted to halt the scheme amid fears of an “over concentration” of bookmakers in the area.

Speaking at the meeting, Coun John Browne said: “The concern I have, in these days particularly of poverty and of vast inequalities that are getting wider, is that people with time on their hands or with depression or with compulsions will end up gambling their money away and their families will suffer as a consequence.

“ I do believe in people having the freedom to do what they want, but I am worried that this is happening in Preston and that people in poverty are becoming poorer because of it, while the owners of establishments like this get even richer.”

Coun Margaret McManus said: “I admit there are no grounds for turning it down, but I personally will be voting against it. I think it encourages people who can’t afford it to lose money to go there.”

Coral had applied for a change of use from an amusement arcade to financial and professional services.

Agent Altine Topping had told the meeting she believed the proposal complied with local policy, and a report to councillors from officers recommended the scheme for approval with conditions.

Coun Drew Gale said: “I know why these shops are opening - it’s the fixed odds betting terminals. It’s not for people having a flutter on the gee gees. These machines are something far more sinister - the analogy of the crack cocaine of gambling is accurate and they have no place on our high streets.”

Councillors rejected the plan by majority, saying it would result in an over concentration of bookmakers.

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