Thursday, May 09, 2013

Betting shops 'blight on our high streets'

The recent Future of Britain report asked consumers what would constitute their ideal high street. Top ranking were a bank, a chemist/health store, newsagents and family butcher/baker. Bottom of the list came a pawnbroker (3%) and a bookmaker (9%). To quote the report:

The fate of the high street is one of the issues that most concern the British public. The study found that 76% of adults are concerned about the future of our high streets and a significant proportion  would back a limit on the number of pawnbrokers and betting shops allowed to open in local areas....the vast majority of British shoppers regard betting shops and pawnbrokers as a blight on our high streets.

You don't have to look very far for the evidence. A cafe on our estate sadly had to close earlier this year due to lack of trade. The new owners of the unit are

the sign went up a couple of weeks ago, and our first local bookies is opening soon. Earlier this week the outlet right next door, a hairdresser, announced it was closing down. People have already noted that having a bookies next door would put people off using the place. I wouldn't be surprised if it becomes harder to let the unit as well. Sadly the bookies seems to outlast better shops - in a neighbouring estate the current line-up is a fish and chip shop, charity shop, bookies and tattoo parlour. Not so long ago we had a post office and fruit and veg shop.

The betting industry works hard to keep politicians onside, and problem gambling is on the rise, despite the recession (or maybe because of it - the industry seems to target poorer areas). Research suggests that if you increase access to gambling, that has a knock-on increase on problem gambling. But we can't just blame other people, local communities have to use the shops they want to keep: ASDA will keep trundling on, but the small business down the road depends on local people to use it. And if we don't, people like Ladbrokes will move in.

1 comment:

  1. A new law comes in today (30 May 2013) allowing bookies to open in empty shops without planning permission. See Daily Mail:

    This is a problem everywhere. People in our suburb of Oxford will soon have three betting shops (plus a coffee shop for each day of the week), but nowhere to buy anything sensible. Young people shop on Amazon, but the elderly who don't own computers (and would be too frightened to shop online even if they did) really suffer.