New 24/7 gambling arcade Little Vegas opening in Hayes despite concerns over children's safety

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New 24/7 gambling arcade Little Vegas opening in Hayes despite concerns over children's safety
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Hillingdon Council's licensing sub-committee has approved a new adult gaming centre in Hayes. The site, which will allow over 18s to gamble, has faced opposition from a local councillor and residents.

The approval will see ‘Little Vegas’ open its doors on 14-16 Station Road 24 hours a day, seven days a week. However, the prospect of a slot machine arcade opening in the area caused alarm for those living there and their representative Councillor Janet Gardener.

She wrote to the council: "Knowing the area as I do and the minor criminal activities that go on in and around the town centre I believe that if this application is approved the premises will act as a magnet for those intent on causing problems."

Cllr Gardener added: "Local residents have expressed their concerns to us as their ward councillors about this proposal as they worry about the effect it will have on their children. The proposed location is in an area that has several schools and it is immediately next door to a place where children from several local schools gather in the late afternoon and evenings.

"There has been a great deal of nuisance caused by a number of these young people and this has required repeated involvement of the local police. There are also vulnerable young adults living at the Ventura House YMCA hostel just along Station Road and others who attend the YMCA youth centre."

'Area already a hotspot for crime and disorder'

One of the other four people to register an objection was Father Matthew Cahsmore of St. Anselm’s Church. He also raised concerns about the effect the gambling shop's location might have on children.

He wrote: "The proposed location is directly outside the bus stop in Hayes Town where children from the various secondary schools are picked up and dropped off each day. This is already a hot spot for crime and disorder (multiple stabbings and attacks) and we are concerned that the children will feel attracted to this premises given the location and will come to see gambling as an attractive option.

"Whilst steps may be taken to stop children attending a daily dose of advertising as they get on and off the school bus seems to place an unreasonable burden on a vulnerable group."

He also warned of an adverse effect on other vulnerable people. He added: "We also feel it’s location – placed between the Methodist Church and St. Anselm Church where foodbanks run and where vulnerable people recovering from gambling addictions come for help will face Appendix 4a run of shops offering opportunities to gamble – in particular a venue directly by the bus stop and next to ATMs. There are already other venues in the street and we feel an additional one in this particular location will attract the vulnerable people we are trying to help recover their lives. "

Applicant 'wakes up every morning' with safety in mind

None of the four people made representations in person giving applicant Darren Hughes the opportunity to reassure the committee that although he understood concerns they should not prevent the granting of the licence. He said he was happy to reach out to concerned groups and work with them to ensure there were no negative impacts from the shop.

He told the panel that he 'wakes up every morning' with safety in mind and how to maintain the smooth running of his business's shops. He and his representative insisted that they had never had an issue with the 26 stores they currently operate which are in locations such as Ilford and Croydon.

Mr Hughes said his staff are trained to the highest quality and that a lobby system was in place to act as a "decompression chamber" preventing troublemakers or underage children from entering the gambling hall before staff could identify them. Through a combination of CCTV and having a minimum of two staff working at all times Mr Hughes said that problem gamblers would be banned.

Cllr Roy Chamdal announced the shop's licence was approved saying that the council was satisfied that the shop would comply with the licensing objectives.