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Discussion of the proliferation of gambling premises on high streets starts 2 hours 56 minutes into this recording of Mayor's Question Time

In reponse to a question from the assembly member for Enfield & Haringey, the Mayor of London has undertaken to lobby the relevant government department to make it easier for councils to reject planning applications for new high street gambling premises.

When raising the matter at Mayor's Question Time on 15th July, Joanne McCartney AM made reference to last month's protest in Green Lanes organised by StopPGMerkurSlots that she had attended, along with London Assembly colleague Sian Bailey and Bambos Charalambous MP.

During discussion of the mayor's High Streets for All recovery mission, the local assembly member pointed out that the Government’s current ‘aim to permit’ guidance makes it harder for councils to reject planning applications for gambling premises. In response, Sadiq Khan provided his assurances that he would look into submitting a joint response with the chair of the body which represents all London councils to lobby the department for culture, media and sport (DCMS) to reverse this guidance.

The inadequacy of local councils' powers to restrict the number of gambling premises was last year highlighted in a report issued by a House of Lords committee.

Commenting on the issue, Joanne McCartney said:

“Our high streets have been hit hard by the pandemic, but as we plan for our economic recovery, we must ensure that we help them to bounce back in a way that benefits the whole community.

“Having endless numbers of betting shops and arcades stifles the social fabric of our high streets and I am concerned to see yet another one set to open in Palmers Green.

“The current guidance set down by Government makes it very difficult for councils to reject applications for new gambling premises and this has to change.

“I was very pleased that the Mayor has now confirmed that he will make joint representations with London Councils on this issue”.

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Ann Jones posted a reply #6108 22 Jul 2021 14:24
Just a thought for the great campaigners who have worked so hard fighting Merkur Slots and I hope will continue to do so. What happened here is that the gambling company used that well known trick of sticking in their planning application around the Christmas break when everyone was distracted. When I lived in Brent, a disreputable pub chain tried the same thing but under pressure from me, the Council extended the consultation period to allow residents more time to object.

Could we, as a group, ask Enfield Council to adopt different procedures over for example the period late Dec/early Jan and to have a back up plan if they see a potentially controversial application sail through without objections. I understand there are also national legislation governing this but we didn’t stand a chance when the application proceeded unchallenged. The Brent experience makes me think Councils could put in place discretionary procedures to ensure residents have the opportunity to object.
Colin Younger posted a reply #6109 22 Jul 2021 15:07
Of course Councils may also be guilty of opening consultations at such times. I seem to recall the application to turn the old Southgate Town Hall over to housing began in the school holiday period....