Permission has been granted for a new betting shop to open on Sydenham Road, despite pressing opposition from local people and a ward councillor.
The licensing committee agreed that a Paddy Power bookmaker would replace a former Wimpy Bar. The shop will be the third of its kind on the street.
At the recent committee meeting, Paddy Power said the smooth running of their other Lewisham establishments gave them solid ground to expand their business.
Despite this, the licensing committee heard concerns about the morality and impact of another betting shop on the local economy from Sydenham ward councillor Chris Best.
Best said: “The Wimpy Bar supports the evening economy. Paddy Power is a detriment to the high street where we want growth.”
“We want local businesses to enhance the community, to work with us, to give a vibrant community.”
Best also fears for the surrounding businesses on Sydenham Road. He said: “The Paddy Power won’t bring footfall for other businesses to survive. We are aiming for a variety of businesses, a curated high street. This is flying in the face of what [the high street] needs.”
As well as two other bookmakers, the high street has two cash exchange businesses, and six other Paddy Power betting shops are already active in the borough.
Annabel McLaren, chair of the Sydenham Society, a local amenity society said: “It’s a retrograde step to lose the restaurant. [Paddy Power] is not the kind of thing we want for the high street.”
McLaren added: “The law is on the side of the gaming industry. It’s a shame they didn’t retain [the space] for another restaurant – the high street is short of [them].”
At the meeting, Paddy Power informed the committee that there were “no grounds for refusal” of the license, adding, “The current law allows the proliferation of betting shops.”
When asked for a further comment, Paddy Power said they are a “responsible operator” which is “willing to work with local councillors and the community”.
They said their shops are a “major local investment” and on average create five new jobs per store.
They continued: “At a time when the UK high street is facing unprecedented challenges due to the economic downturn and the emergence of out of town shopping centres, we believe we can make a positive contribution to local communities.”
Best requested a “closer collaboration [from license-holders] to work for the good of the community” in the future.
Read East London Lines’ reports on Tower Hamlets Labour councillors’ campaign to increase local power to oppose the proliferation of betting shops. Find out about gambling losses percentages in the ELL boroughs, and about the spread of betting shops in Deptford.