Crack­down on spread of book­ies Coun­cil to re­vise pol­icy to limit num­ber of new shops

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Carl Jack­son Lo­cal Democ­racy Re­porter

COUN­CIL li­cens­ing chiefs have vowed to crack down on the num­ber of bet­ting shops in Birm­ing­ham.

The city coun­cil has pro­posed re­vi­sions to its gam­bling pol­icy which will in­clude a re­quire­ment for ‘lo­cal risk as­sess­ments’ in re­la­tion to ap­pli­ca­tions for new book­mak­ers.

The li­cens­ing and pub­lic pro­tec­tion com­mit­tee was told the move would give of­fi­cers more pow­ers to block them in ar­eas where there are al­ready sev­eral. Coun­cil­lor Mike Leddy (Lab, Brand­wood and King’s Heath) called for a cap on the num­ber of book­mak­ers in cer­tain ar­eas to be im­posed by a sim­i­lar mech­a­nism to the coun­cil’s Cu­mu­la­tive Im­pact Zone (CIZ) pol­icy, which re­stricts how many al­co­hol es­tab­lish­ments can open up in one place.

He said: “I’m ab­so­lutely as­ton­ished to hear that there is no le­gal re­quire­ment around hav­ing a pa­rade of shops and each one be­ing a bet­ting shop.

“If we can have a CIZ for drink­ing premises why can’t we have some­thing sim­i­lar for gam­bling premises? If it’s not law can we as a com­mit­tee write to Sec­re­tary of State?

“There needs to be steps to limit the max­i­mum num­ber of li­censed premises for gam­bling in a par­tic­u­lar area.”

He claimed: “Peo­ple who go into the book­ies are those that can least af­ford to and the most de­prived, want­ing to get a quick buck in the pocket.”

It was ex­plained that the coun­cil is gov­erned by dif­fer­ent pieces of leg­is­la­tion in re­la­tion to drink­ing premises and gam­bling venues.

The new pol­icy is set to take ef­fect from Fe­bru­ary.

Shawn Wood­cock, li­cens­ing op­er­a­tions man­ager, said: “There has been

Peo­ple who go into the book­ies are those that can least af­ford to and the most de­prived Cllr Mike Leddy

oc­ca­sions where there may be too many bet­ting shops in one area but with­out a lo­cal risk as­sess­ment we’ve not been able to ob­ject. We can now and we will.”

Ques­tions were also raised around mea­sures gam­bling shops take to pro­tect peo­ple los­ing too much money.

Head of li­cens­ing, Chris Neville, said that most book­mak­ers were very “so­phis­ti­cated” with com­put­ers telling them how much had been bet on each fixed odds bet­ting ter­mi­nal in­side the venue.

> The city can­not cur­rently limit the num­ber of book­ies in any one area

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