A bookmaker is urging town councils to control the number of betting shops opening in high streets – much to the amazement of campaigners.
The Mayor of Morley, Coun Tom Leadley, said William Hill had emailed councillors telling them what they should be doing to control the excessive number of betting shops being opened.
He said: “Those who fought hard to try to stop Ladbrokes opening a betting shop at Morley Market and William Hill opening at one of the best retail addresses in Morley, Windsor Court, will be amazed to hear this.”
William Hill is suggesting an amendment to the Gambling Act of 2005, which would allow a “cumulative impact” test to be made in each town centre.
Coun Leadley said: “If it was found that a centre had just enough, or too many betting shops, no more would be allowed.
“After narrowly failing to stop Ladbrokes at appeal decision in the Windsor Court case, campaigners who have tried to control the spread of betting shops in Morley may be left speechless.”
The email sent to councillors states that “in light of recent concerns around betting shops on the high street, William Hill’s chief executive has said that he recognises that people have concerns and recognises the need to listen to local communities.”
Coun Leadley said: “There are serious weaknesses in the Licensing Act of 2003 and the Gambling Act of 2005, but we need to be wary whenever a poacher suddenly wants to become a gamekeeper.”
In the email sent to councillors, William Hill said it believed a solution for local councils would be to amend the Gambling Act 2005 to give local authorities the power to sensibly refuse new betting shop applications if they felt that the concentration of betting shops in a particular area was causing community concern.
The company said it had written to the leader of Leeds City Council to request the opportunity to discuss constructive solutions to local concerns with council officials.