Inevitably, Lewisham Licensing Committee were obliged to grant Betfred their Betting Licence yesterday evening, due to the restrictions imposed on them by the Gambling Law 2005.
Three people spoke on behalf of the people of Deptford in objection, one of whom runs a business on the high street who spoke passionately on behalf of businesses in the immediate vicinity who are opposed to the new betting shop.
The committee posed a few questions to the Betfred representative related to children and to problem gambling. Since the law as it stands discounts the effect on children of the prevalence of bookmakers in the area so long as they are not allowed on the premises, all arguments about the proximity of the proposed premises to primary schools and community resources could not be considered.
Regarding the question of problem gambling, the response of Betfred was laughable, but still within the law, since it is an irrelevancy under the current Act.
The hearing ended with an afterword from the Licencing Team officer, who said we would be sent papers about how we could appeal quite soon against this decision (in Bromley), and also that the applicant would be obliged to submit to a Planning stage in due course.
We'd assumed there would be very little happening at Planning stage, since the premises has A2 use already, but it appears it has exclusive use as a "Building Society" and nothing else, a rather bizarre twist in the story....