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Fighting off Paddy Power betting shop on Cally – Camden Council wins landmark appeal

June 8, 2016
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Paul Convery and Una O’Halloran outside the premises at 325 Caledonian Road.

The campaign to prevent Paddy Power opening a betting shop on Caledonian Road received a boost this week. The gambling company has lost a planning appeal to take over a similar shop premises in Kilburn.

In December 2015, Islington Council denied planning permission to open a betting shop but Paddy Power has appealed. This would have been the third in a cluster of betting shops, with Ladbrokes at 291 Caledonian Road and William Hill at number 312.

A planning inspector will hold a case hearing on 27th July and Islington Council will vigorously defend its decision.

Islington Council’s argument has been strengthened by a case in Kilburn where Paddy Power failed to convince a planning inspector. Camden Council had refused permission on grounds very similar to Islington: adverse effect on the retail character of the area; and the impact from over-concentration of gambling premises.

Caledonian ward councillors had originally opposed the plans and have now submitted evidence to the appeal inspector.

Paul Convery adds “there’s nothing wrong with a flutter, but these betting shops are promoting hardcore gambling. And Paddy Power seems to be one of the most aggressive firms pushing the gambling habit in areas where the least affluent people live.”

Cally Councillors back-up David Lammy, Labour MP for Tottenham, who recently condemned the gambling industry for opening yet more betting shops with Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs): “These provide almost half of bookmakers’ over-counter profits, making them by far the single biggest income stream in retail sales. These machines have been dubbed “the crack cocaine of gambling”, enabling punters to stake up to £300 a minute or £18,000 an hour. Betting shops encourage this reckless gambling with lines of free credit to punters who win more”.

Paddy Power has been singled-out for aggressive expansion of shops with FOBT machines. A study published in March 2016 revealed that Paddy Power is targeting areas with a high percentage of ethnic minorities with FOBT  machines. The data shows that 61% of Paddy Power’s 349 betting shops are located in the highest minority ethnic areas.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has  criticised Paddy Power for concentrating their business on “almost every area of London with high non-UK-born populations. This isn’t chasing footflow – it’s targeting the most vulnerable people. It is disgraceful behaviour and reinforces why we must deal with the proliferation of betting shops in disadvantaged areas, and the addictive roulette machines which can cause so much misery.”

Earlier this year, Paddy Power was forced to pay £280,000 to a “socially responsible” cause after the Gambling Commission found it had encouraged a problem gambler to keep betting until he lost five jobs, his home and access to his children. It was criticised for “failing to keep crime out of gambling and protect vulnerable people”.

The Planning Inspector’s decision which endorsed Camden Council’s refusal of planning permission can be read here.

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