Decision to refuse city centre gambling business goes to appeal

Telegraph & Argus
 
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A GAMBLING chain is appealing Bradford Council’s decision to block its plans to open a city centre branch due to the “harm” it could bring.

The Council’s public health department made a rare intervention to push for an application to turn a former building society on Bank Street into a new gaming centre to be refused this Summer.

They claimed the plans, by Merkur Slots, were in an area of Bradford where there was a high concentration of people “vulnerable to gambling related harms.”

But the company had now lodged an appeal against that refusal, meaning the final decision on whether the plans can go ahead will be made by a Government appointed planning inspector.

Merkur Slots had hoped to turn the former Leeds Building Society building on Bank Street into a “bingo premises” that would open from 9am to midnight.

The same company has recently opened a similar business in a former Coral bookmakers at the top of Ivegate.

After the application for the Bank Street unit was submitted, the company said it would “return a vacant unit back to commercial use, ensuring it once again contributes to the local economy.”

But the location of the planned gaming centre – within 50 metres of five other betting businesses, and near the Citizen’s Advice centre, raised concerns with Bradford Council officers.

A partnership of Bradford Council’s Public Health department, the Reducing Inequalities Alliance - Bradford and Craven Health and Care Partnership and the multiagency Bradford Gambling Harms Reduction Partnership lodged an objection to the plan, saying: “This area has high levels of deprivation, and is very close to schools, colleges and university, as well as to drug and alcohol treatment services which are in close proximity.”

They said it could lead to a “high risk of harm to vulnerable people who live, work, study and socialise” in the city centre.”

Refusing the application, planning officers said: “There are links between gambling and mental health issues, with problem gamblers at least twice as likely to die from suicide when compared with the general population.”

They added: “The impact of another gambling associated establishment in this area, where there is already an overconcentration of similar uses, would be unsustainable, and removes opportunities for the area to adapt within its primary retail function.”

Even before the application had been refused, Merkur had threatened to appeal. In a letter to the Council the company said: “Other local authorities have challenged the impacts of Merkur Slots venues and used health impacts as a reason for refusal, despite having no evidence.

“Planning inspectors have consistently overruled this ideology.”

A Government inspector will make a decision on the appeal in due course.

GambleAware GambleAware 2 days
@GambleAware

We are delighted to have launched our new Lived Experience Council, comprised entirely of people with lived experience of gambling harms. The Council met for the first time last Friday & will provide expert advice towards our work. Find out more

We are delighted to have launched our new Lived Experience Council, comprised entirely of people with lived experience of gambling harms. The Council met for the first time last Friday & will provide expert advice towards our work. Find out more
CasinoBeats CasinoBeats 1 day
@casinobeatsnews

A lived experience council, using people with a variety of gambling harm experiences to help provide guidance on strategic developments, has been rolled-out by .

Owen Baily Owen Baily 2 days
@owenbaily1982

A brilliant starting panel on 'What does a Public Health approach mean to you?' with a great speech by @HBowdenJonesOBE and involving the inspiring @GambleAware Lived Experience Council members @sam_starsmore and

A brilliant starting panel on 'What does a Public Health approach mean to you?' with a great speech by  @HBowdenJonesOBE and involving  the inspiring @GambleAware Lived Experience Council members @sam_starsmore and