SCA bid for new planning and licensing powers

HACKNEY has formally applied to the Government for stronger powers to control the concentration of betting shops in the borough, through the Sustainable Communities Act (SCA).

There are more than 60 bookmakers in Hackney, which is over three times the local authority average, and following concern from residents and ward councillors that a concentration of premises targets the most vulnerable members of society and impacts on communities, the Council has applied under the round of SCA bids which closed on 31 July.

The Council wants strengthened planning and licensing legislation so that it can control the number of bookmakers opening in an area, following consultation with residents. Of more than 500 local people responding through Hackney’s consultation e-panel, 64% supported the idea that the Council could get new powers to limit the concentration of betting shops.

Hackney’s Community Safety and Social Inclusion Scrutiny Commission also held a public meeting in June to discuss the matter further, and invited representations not only from local residents, but also from bookmakers themselves.

Jules Pipe, Mayor of Hackney, said: “Residents have told us they are concerned that concentrations of these shops are dominating the character of their local area and have asked us to reduce the impact this can have, particularly on some of society s most vulnerable members. We have applied for stronger powers through the Sustainable Communities Act because residents cannot understand why we are prevented from meeting their needs in this matter, in line with the Government s place-shaping agenda for councils.”

The Council has also written to the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to highlight the fact that the Gambling Act 2005 gives local authorities limited defence against unreasonable proliferation of betting shops.