Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Amendment to Localism Bill voted down by Coalition

In the previous post about Betfred we reported that David Lammy MP would be tabling an amendment to the controversial Localism Bill in the Commons this week. The vote took place yesterday.

David Lammy has written to us to let us know that "despite the fact that 221 MPs from Labour, the Greens, SDLP, DUP and Plaid Cymru supported my amendment, it was defeated by 315 Liberal Democrat and Conservative MPs."

"Yesterday, I tabled an amendment to the Localism Bill in order to give communities the power they needed to manage the number and location of bookmakers. The amendment sought to change the planning category of betting shops so that they are no longer classed alongside banks and building socieities and are placed in a class of their own, just like Casinos and Gaming Arcades.

"Currently, bookmakers can open up in the same premises as a bank, estate agent, pub, takeaway or restaurant without the need for any planning permission - that's 45% of shopfronts in Haringey. Changing the planning category would force any new betting shop to require planning permission first, giving councils and residents the statutory support they need for greater local control on this issue.

"For too long we have seen great local amenities and iconic buildings being replaced by endless numbers of bookmakers. There are streets in London that look more and more like Las Vegas without any of the glitz or glamour. This amendment would have represented a significant step forward for those people that want more local control over their high streets and don’t want to see their high streets turn into cloned ghost towns."

Mr Lammy was particularly disappointed by his local MP Lib Dem Lynne Featherstone, who had previously expressed support for the campaign, but voted with the government against it.

Lammy pledged to keep fighting however. "I will continue to keep up the pressure on government ministers on this issue. The next step will be to pressure the Department for Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee to hold a review of the 2005 Gambling Act. I will be in touch in the near future on how we can all pressure an inquiry together."

We look forward to that.

Meanwhile, we found this on "Planning Blog" which explains the Tory point of view that the LibDems helped promote...Michael Donnelly writes:

"The amendment was rejected in a vote but this is a strong argument and it’s hard not to feel that ‘something needs to be done’ about this, via the planning system.

That said, a point raised by Philip Davies MP (Conservative) is also valid: “Betting shops go where there is a demand for them”, he said.

“If there was no demand for them on the high streets in Lewisham and Tottenham, presumably some of them would close down because there would not be enough demand. The fact that these betting shops have not closed down indicates that their constituents want to use them, which makes them viable.”

This is of course correct. It’s basic supply and demand. The question is whether this supply is in turn driving demand and getting people, often poor, often vulnerable, addicted to gambling and in turn increasing social problems in areas that already have their fair share.

The proliferation of betting shops will presumably form a part of retail guru Mary Portas’ independent review to look ways to develop “more prosperous and diverse high streets”, which was announced with great excitement yesterday.... "

Planning Blog provided a link to the relevant government webpage...where you can see this video of Mary Portas...

Oh dear...hope flies out the window...


  1. I see that Philip Davies MP for Shipley was a manager for two bookmakers before joining Asda which he left in 1999 after being elected...

    He has called for government to "scrap the Human Rights Act for foreign nationals and chuck them out of the country" and he has been criticised as "disgracefully reactionary" for saying publicly that he wanted to see "an increase in the prison population."

    He is among a minority of Conservative MPs who has called for the scrapping of the minimum wage and is an organiser for the economically right-wing Taxpayers' Alliance.

    He is anti-Muslim, and anti Debt Relief for Developing Countries. He is against reform of parliament and has been targeted by the Power 2010 campaign as one of 6 MPs "who stand in the way of a reforming Parliament".

    Read more about this vile creature on Wikipedia...

  2. Perhaps Ms Portas will discover that successful High Streets are not one dimensional retail outlets, shopping malls without a roof or just about "consumers "(awful word/concept that should be outlawed except as worst possible insult)..Perhaps the concept of community built environment planning and economic activity based on human need and nature may discover a Renaissance..Perhaps Ms Portas would like to take a stroll outside of the 1980s and inform herself of modern up to date thinking ..Oh dear ..not that likely ...she has been employed by the bosses...

  3. There was a really good radio documentary about this...

    "Last month riots broke out during a protest in Bristol about the opening of a new Tesco Express in the independent, bohemian area of Stokes Croft. Hundreds of people took to the street, several police officers were injured and there was serious damage to the new store.

    "A longstanding campaign had concerns about the impact of the store on the area's character - exacerbated by the belief that Tesco had been less than open. The council are frustrated that they didn't know a supermarket was in the offing when they agreed to the site's 'change of use'. There's no obligation on any supermarket to declare their hand at that stage and Tesco say that as well as bringing investment into the area there were thousands of people through the door when the Express store opened. The Council have asked the Government to review the planning rules.

    "As the Localism Bill goes through Parliament and the Government appoints Mary Portas 'Queen of Shops' as High Street Tzar there's an emphasis on devolved decision making and more control for local authorities. Phil Kemp visits areas where the local community is split and hears that some councillors feel they can't ask the questions they want to - like whether or not the community 'needs' a new supermarket. The coalition had made a commitment to change the planning rules to that effect, but the question is whether a Government keen to kick start the economy can afford to stand by that pledge."