Monday November 11,2013 : BETTING SHOP ROW BREWING IN BRITAIN
Politicians weigh in on attempt by some councils to halt the proliferation of betting shops.
The highly contentious and widely publicised topic of permits for High Street betting shops surfaced again over the weekend as politicians argued over attempts by some local councils to curtail the introduction of more betting shops.
The Ladbrokes group was at the centre of the current row, having written to planning minister Nick Boles to express its concern about "alarming actions by unelected officials" opposed to betting shops, The Telegraph and other major newspapers reported.
Boles reportedly responded in writing, informing Ladbrokes: "I do recognise that this can be a significant problem and we are taking action to tackle it."
The minister cited new powers in the controversial growth bill designed to revitalise high streets by "cutting red tape" and putting empty shops "back into productive use".
The issue was then further politicised when Labour's shadow local government minister, Hilary Benn, obtained the letters under Freedom of Information laws, and went on the attack, saying: "David Cameron claimed that he would act to protect communities but these documents show that his ministers have been doing the opposite."
Benn went on to claim that government's attitude is making it more difficult "…for communities to stop the proliferation of betting shops and undermining the powers used by councils to force applicants for planning permission to explain the social impact of their changes".
Engaging in early damage control, a spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government, said, "The provisions in the growth and infrastructure bill were announced to parliament three months before the department received a letter from Ladbrokes. To suggest the government was somehow influenced by the betting industry is simply untrue."