Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News - - Yourviews - Dave Plun­kett

YOU can go into a bet­ting shop and bet £100 a time on an FOBT (Fixed Odds Bet­ting Ter­mi­nal).

FOBTs are known as the crack co­caine of gam­bling.

These ma­chines are recog­nised to en­cour­age prob­lem gam­bling, which then cost over £1bn a year to our pub­lic ser­vices, the NHS, and the wel­fare and crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tems.

The Gam­bling Com­mis­sion has shown how the UK’s prob­lem gam­bling pop­u­la­tion grew by 50% in the three years to 2015.

Over 430,000 peo­ple were iden­ti­fied as prob­lem gam­blers, and up to a third used FOBTs.

In 2016 the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment As­so­ci­a­tion called for a re­duc­tion to £2 a play.

They also echoed con­cerns of coun­cils that high streets will have clus­ters of bet­ting shops, as other shops close down.

Lo­cally, our coun­cils in Cheshire, War­ring­ton and Halton have sup­ported pro­pos­als for a new limit of £2 for each play.

But sur­pris­ingly the Cheshire Pen­sion Fund, the pen­sion fund for lo­cal gov­ern­ment, hous­ing and ed­u­ca­tion em­ploy­ees keeps in­vest­ing in gam­ing companies.

This is shown in the lim­ited in­for­ma­tion on the web­site, which shows only a small part of the to­tal in­vest­ments of over £4bn.

The ma­jor­ity is man­aged by fund man­agers in Lon­don and is not shown in de­tail.

Some of us who are pen­sion­ers of the fund say that Cheshire Pen­sion Fund does not con­sider the po­ten­tial im­pacts on our com­mu­ni­ties, and our fam­i­lies.

It does not in­vest wisely in our fu­tures, and sadly our fam­i­lies and grand­chil­dren will suf­fer.

Cheshire Pen­sion Fund cur­rently in­vests in gam­bling, tobacco, frack­ing, arms companies, and a range of un­eth­i­cal companies and in­fa­mous tax avoiders.

The largest sin­gle in­vest­ment of over £55m is in Ama­zon, sup­pos­edly based in Lux­em­bourg to avoid UK cor­po­ra­tion tax.

If tax is not paid prop­erly, Gov­ern­ment at all lev­els have less to spend and we end up with more aus­ter­ity.

Theresa May is sup­posed to be shut­ting down tax loop-holes

Many of these CPF in­vest­ments ac­tu­ally con­tra­dict the work of the lo­cal coun­cils in health, hous­ing and so­cial care.

We say this is dam­ag­ing, and that our fund should in­vest eth­i­cally.

Yet the fund has no an­nual gen­eral meet­ing to al­low such views to be heard.

Can­celling all in­vest­ments in gam­ing and gam­bling would be a start.

Look­ing at all in­vest­ments to see their full eth­i­cal and com­mu­nity im­pact would be the next long over­due step. ●

Matt Neve, 32

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