Peckham Residents' Network

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another betting shop – object!

This new betting shop application, for 96 Peckham High St, follows hot on the heels of another one on the corner of Bournemouth Road and Rye Lane – where it would take over two brand new retail units. It looks as if there are three betting shops already, and this would bring it to five. There has to be a limit to how many there can be in Peckham town centre. Email objections to: dorcas.mills@southwark.gov.uk

But the Licensing Committee can refuse a license only if they can be convinced that they need to, to protect vulnerable people and to prevent crime and disorder. If the Committee get enough objections linking this proliferation of ever more betting shops to the terrible damage being done to so many vulnerable people, as well as to our town centre, they may get the courage to put a stop to it. They have the power and authority if they can see how the proliferation really does damage vulnerable people and lead to crime and disorder.

See an extract below from an objection which gives some ideas about how to make these key links. When you send in your objection say where you live or run a business if you are in or near the town centre as that carries more weight.

BACKGROUND
The Council’s policy for Peckham town centre is to revive and improve the quality of the retail on offer, and to reduce the monopoly of a few kinds of commercial activity both in retail and other uses.

The new betting shop in Rye Lane would cluster with the William Hill shop right opposite on Rye Lane, and not far away in Rye Lane there is another betting shop in the former pub The Hope. The betting shop on Peckham High Street would cluster with Ladbrokes also on the High Street. This is creating an excess of one kind of use which is exactly what the Council is aiming to discourage, because of the damaging effect to the economic and commercial life of the town centre.

New retail units are being created on the ground floor of 143/145 Rye Lane in the historic Holdron’s building there. The best use for that retail unit is for retail which would improve the quality and diversity of commercial activities in the town centre.

These damaging economic effects have a direct relationship with the licensing objectives for this reason. Peckham has a lot of vulnerable people – children, people in difficult financial circumstances whether because of unemployment, low incomes, or debt, and people with mental health problems. It is in the interests of all these children and vulnerable people, for the town centre to be improved as a public place. Allowing the increase in numbers of betting shops will seriously hinder this improvement, and also more directly interfere with the licensing objectives of protecting vulnerable people, and also preventing crime and disorder.

PROTECTING THE VULNERABLE
* Licensing objective of ‘protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling.’

The town centre is used every day by many school children from the local schools. The betting shops’ slot machines will attract children as has been shown in other such premises. Children being present where there is adult gambling in public commercial premises is bound to cause harm to the vulnerable children.

There are also a significant number of unemployed people and others with very low incomes close to the town centre. There is much evidence that people in difficult economic circumstances are prone to gambling to attempt to ease their financial difficulties. Such people are very vulnerable to a proliferation of betting shops appearing in the town centre, which is now happening with these new applications.

The 143/145 Rye Lane premises are on the corner of Rye Lane and Bournemouth Rd where the pavements are narrow. This is a route travelled by parents and children to and from the primary school at Brayards/Consort Rd. People congregating at times outside the shop, which is likely, will block the pavement and make it risky for everyone, including especially vulnerable people, to have to go into the road into the traffic.

PREVENTING CRIME OR DISORDER
* Licensing objective of ‘Preventing gambling from being a source of crime or disorder, being associated with crime or disorder, or being used to support crime.’

I have heard directly from a worker in a local betting shop of the kinds of behaviour that arise inside and just outside the betting shops. When people who are already in difficult financial circumstances lose money, which is inevitable, they can become aggressive to others inside and outside the shop, and at times violent towards the machines in the shop.

This adds to the need to keep betting shops to a minimum in places where children and other vulnerable people have easy access, like Peckham town centre. The first hand reports from the betting shop worker is that children visit the shops to watch who wins and frequently then follow them out of the shop to aggressively seek some of the winnings. All this is very anti social leading to disorder and raising the risk and probability of criminal behaviour, in addition to such a damaging environment for children to grow up in.

The increasing numbers and clustering of the betting shops is significantly increasing the likelihood of these damaging effects as set out under the Licensing objectives.

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