Bookmaker appeal against planning refusal for town centre shop

Local businesses and residents opposed to another betting office in town are ready to fight against Coral Racing Ltd’s appeal to the planning inspectorate.

Rother District Council refused the application to turn premises in Western Road from retail to bookmaker but an appeal against this decision is due to be considered by the planning inspector.

Hillary Randall, of Silver Nutmeg, does not want change of use granted and believes bookmakers have “spread like rashes” across Britain’s high streets. She said: “This is because betting offices are restricted to four machines (fixed odds betting terminals) per ‘shop’. These machines are highly profitable earning on average £900 per week in profits for the bookmakers. As bookmakers are not allowed to put more than four machines in a shop they simply open more shops. Bexhill town centre already has betting offices in Sackville Road, Western Road, and Sea Road. There is no need for any more.”

Mike Lynott, of Bestsellers, said: “Betting shops prey on people who think they can gamble their way out of poverty. They always move in on poor areas and drag them down.”

A spokesman for Coral said: “Betting shops have been located on our nation’s high streets ever since off-course betting was first made legal in 1961. Betting is a popular British pastime with 8 million people visiting our shops every year, shops that are modern leisure retail businesses. Furthermore, betting shops are an important part of the retail mix on high streets, generating footfall, paying taxes and creating jobs. Betting shops generate more footfall than other similar sized outlets apart from post offices and pharmacies. Bookmakers are one of the most regulated retailers on the high street. Operators require two licenses: an operator’s licence from the Gambling Commission and a premises license from a local licensing committee. There is no evidence that betting shops cause an increase in ante-social behaviour, indeed it is more likely that we will be victims of such behaviour. We also take our responsibility to the local communities in which we operate very seriously –we want to attract a wide spectrum of customers to our stores and can only do this by offering them a safe and responsible leisure experience. That is why significant resources are invested into responsible gambling procedures and training of staff.”