Tottenham was hit harder by the recession than most, a flurry of pay-day lenders, pawn shops and bookies began to plague our constituency, clustering along our high streets.
There are now nearly 40 betting shops across Tottenham. They have saturated Tottenham's once vibrant high streets, and bring with them increased anti-social behaviour and prevented other businesses from investing in our community.
I have fought locally and within Parliament to oppose the rampant proliferation of betting shops across the constituency. In 2010 I persuaded the Labour Party to include a manifesto commitment empowering local councils and residents to oppose further betting shops. At Prime Minister’s Questions the same year, I invited David Cameron to see the problems caused by betting shop saturation on the Tottenham High Road for himself.
I tabled an amendment to the Government’s Localism Bill in May 2011 which would have given Local Councils new powers to control the number of betting shops in a given area. Currently, bookmakers can open up in the same premises as a bank, estate agent, pub, takeaway or restaurant without the need for any planning permission - that's 45% of shop fronts in Haringey. Changing the planning category would force any new betting shop to require planning permission first, giving councils and residents the statutory support they need for greater local control on this issue
Sadly, despite 221 Labour MPs backing my amendment, it was defeated by 315 Liberal Democrat and Tory MPs including Lynne Featherstone the Member of parliament for the neighbouring constituency of Hornsey and Wood Green. This result was disappointing as my amendment was made in the spirit of the Localism Bill – it was about empowering residents and councillors to take control of what their high streets and neighbourhoods look like. There is absolutely no reason why the government could not support this
After years of refusing to act, David Cameron’s Government finally listened to my calls to grant Councils stronger powers to address the explosion of bookies on our high streets.
Read some of the articles I have written on the subject here: