Agenda item


To consider any requests received in accordance with Part 4, Section B, paragraph 29 of the Council’s constitution.


The Committee received a deputation in respect of the Council’s draft Gambling Policy.  The deputation stated that 20% of shop premises in Tottenham were now being used for gambling purposes.  This was bad for the area and they felt that it would not be tolerated in other areas of the borough.  There had previously been successful campaigns in some areas of the borough to stop betting shops but residents were not always aware of proposed new establishments.  


Gambling could cause harm to people in the community and, in some cases, could lead to debt and destitution.  Gambling had a particularly negative impact on young people and some premises were offering free refreshments to entice them in. Poorer communities were often targeted by operators as these were likely to provide the greatest profits. They were disappointed that a new establishment had been allowed to open in Tottenham recently, despite opposition from local people.


In answer to a question regarding how they wished the Council to respond further, the deputation stated that there had been no consultation with the local community regarding the proposed opening of new gambling premises in Tottenham and no consideration over whether it was wanted locally.  They felt that there was a need for the Council to be more ambitious in its approach.  In addition, they felt that more genuine consultation was required with residents. 


Committee Members stated that although gambling could be a blight on local communities, the Council had very limited powers to prevent establishments from opening.  It was not possible for the Council to just say that it did not want them.  Current legislation stated that there was an “aim to permit” and the Council and other local authorities had asked the government to remove this. 


The deputation responded that they were aware that local authorities had limited powers.  They already felt that they knew what the outcome of consultation on the issue would be and there was little chance of the Council stopping establishments from opening by using the law as it currently stood.  They felt that the Council could nevertheless make local people more aware when proposals were made to open establishments as well as what they could do if they objected to them. 


Committee Members stated that they shared the concerns of the deputation regarding the proliferation of gambling establishments and, in particular, the disproportionate number of these that there were in the more deprived parts of the borough.  Men from some Black and Minority Ethnic communities were also disproportionately affected by gambling. 


Councillor Ruth Gordon, the Cabinet Member for House Building, Place-Making and Development, reported that ward Councillors had objected robustly to a recent proposal to open a gambling establishment in Tottenham and the application had been turned down initially.  However, the application had been agreed when re-submitted by the applicant despite there being a number of objections.  Unlike the first time, the Police had not objected to the re-submitted application.  In addition, the application had not been noticed as much when re-submitted. 

It was noted that the application was submitted during the lockdown period.  The government had made no changes to the Licensing laws in response to lockdown and Councils had still been required to process applications received during this time.  There was a prescribed process under the Gambling Act that dealt with the application procedure and this had been followed by the Council. It had also gone beyond statutory requirements by sending information on the application to residents referred to it by ward Councillors.  The original application for the premises was for 24 hours.  When opening hours were reduced for the re-submitted application, the Police no longer objected.


The Chair reported that the Council had asked for the “aim to permit” provision to be abolished in response to consultation on the Gambling Act Review.  In addition, they had also stated that local authorities should have the power to say when the number of gambling premises had reached saturation point and that local residents should be able to influence decisions.  He felt that a campaign was required to bring about the necessary legislative changes and that this should involve local Members of Parliament.


Councillor Noah Tucker stated that he felt that there ought to be clarity that the Council did not support the proliferation of gambling establishments and the harm they caused to the community.  Councillor Ibrahim felt that the Council should look at what more it could do to address the issue.  One of the biggest problem areas was Green Lanes, which had the largest concentration of gambling establishments in western Europe.  It was clear that gambling could lead to harm, including domestic violence and homelessness. Operators knew the demographics of areas and targeted those where they felt they might be most successful.  She felt that the Council should campaign strongly for changes to relevant legislation.