Controls over betting shops hailed as a victory for Milton Keynes campaigners

Andrew Pakes
Andrew Pakes

A Milton Keynes Parliamentary candidate has hailed moves to control the spread of betting shops as a victory for campaigners.

But Andrew Pakes, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Milton Keynes South, has warned that the changes will likely come too late to stop the latest betting shop from opening on Queensway in Bletchley.

Andrew, who has been campaigning for the last three years for greater powers to stop the spread of payday money lenders and betting shops, said more action was needed to give local people more control over their high streets and neighbourhood centres.

At the moment, councils have limited powers to stop the spread of betting shops and payday money lenders. Betting shops are categorised in law as the same as banks and estate agents making it harder to stop their spread in the city.

According to recent figures, there are 20 per cent more payday loan shops than a year ago and 3.3 per cent more betting shops.

The latest planning application for a new Paddy Power will make it the 11th betting or gambling shop on Queensway in Bletchley according to campaigners. The new store has been opposed by Bletchley & Fenny Stratford Town Council, local Labour councillors, businesses and community representatives – but under the law as is stands they are powerless to stop it opening.

The government announced new plans on betting shops today, Wednesday, which will introduce a new planning class to cover betting shops.

Andrew said: “This latest u-turn from the government is a victory for campaigners worried about the spread of betting and gambling shops across parts of the city. We need some common sense in the planning system so that councils and local communities have a real say over what kind of developments are permitted on the high street.

“It looks like these plans will be too late to stop the latest Paddy Power opening on Queensway, but I hope their management will think again about this development or, at the very least, come to Bletchley and meet with local residents. Milton Keynes Council should have been at the forefront of these reforms, like many other authorities were, not sitting quietly on the sidelines.

“We need to keep pressure on the government to implement these changes as soon as possible.”

For more details of the plans – see here.