Calls to restrict numbers of Preston betting shops

Fixed Odds Betting terminal
Fixed Odds Betting terminal
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The number of betting shops in Preston could be restricted after a study of fixed odds betting terminals.

A task group was set up to examine the problem in the city, and recommended trying to limit the number of bookies.

But leaders have warned that the council is in the hands of central government, and has “run up against a brick wall”.

Preston Council’s communities scrutiny panel looked at the impact of the gaming machines in the city.

A report from Coun Bhikhu Patel said: “The panel felt that the problems surrounding fixed odds betting terminals were on the increase and discussed ways to address this.

“These included restrictions in numbers of betting shops, consideration of location of shops and working together with neighbouring authorities.”

Recommendations to cabinet include investigating joint working between the council and neighbouring authorities, and looking at creating a policy restricting the number of betting shops, once developments through the Betting Commission are known.

But Coun John Swindells, cabinet member for planning and regulation, said betting shops were currently within the same classification as takeaways and travel agents, and planning permission wasn’t needed to change the use of outlets within the same classification. He said: “The recommendation really means we are waiting for the government, which appears to have kicked this into the long grass until after the election. We would be in favour of it, like many local authorities, but we are awaiting central government. There is nothing we can do until the legislation changes.

“We’ve been working with a number of local authorities across the country and the fairer gambling association to try to restrict them, but we seem to have run up against a brick wall about what we are allowed to do.”