Ipswich: Third betting shop to open in Upper Brook Street amid calls for greater regulation

Allsorts at Home is closing down and William Hill will open a betting shop in its place.

Allsorts at Home is closing down and William Hill will open a betting shop in its place. - Credit: Archant

A third betting shop is to open in a 112-metre stretch of one Ipswich street – prompting concerns bookmakers are saturating the town centre.

Coral in Upper Brook Street, close to Costa

Coral in Upper Brook Street, close to Costa - Credit: Archant

A sign in the window of the former curtain shop Allsorts for the Home in Upper Brook Street reveals the store is closing and will be replaced by a William Hill shop.

Jennings Bet in Upper Brook Street, opposite Sainsburys

Jennings Bet in Upper Brook Street, opposite Sainsburys - Credit: Archant

But just down the road gamblers can already have a flutter at either Coral and Jennings Bet. Meanwhile Ladbrokes and Betfred are both in nearby in Carr Street.

The latest store to open – which takes the total number of bookies in the Ipswich borough area to 27.

Borough council leader David Ellesmere said town halls were powerless to act to prevent betting shops saturating the high street.

He said current planning laws did not require bookies to apply to local councils for permission to change the use of a store into a betting shop.

Last week Labour leader Ed Miliband said councils should have new powers to stop betting shops and payday lenders swamping high streets.

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But Ipswich MP Ben Gummer said local authorities could already step in if a betting shop was thought to be “unsuitable for the local area”.

Mr Ellesmere, who will stand against Mr Gummer at the next election, said: “It is a real problem that these shops can open up without applying for a change of use.

“Enough is enough – we need to protect our high streets. The only people who ever make money out of bookies are the bookmakers themselves.”

But Mr Gummer said the council should “stop waffling and get on with it”, citing powers under the Gambling Act to licence adult gaming centres as well as planning legislation, currently being used by the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham to address the proliferation of betting shops in the area.

He said: “Gambling can destroy lives and needs careful regulation.

“Local councils already have the right to stop more betting shops from opening. They can refuse permission if it is unsuitable for the local area.

“Other councils are doing this – including Labour councils. As is so often the case, Ipswich Borough Council needs to stop waffling and get on with it.”

Paul Clement, chief executive of Ipswich Central, urged caution in handing greater powers to local authorities.

“It would be impossible to stop it at just this problem (betting shops), it would go beyond that and in some parts of the country you would see councils trying to model high streets on what they want rather than what the consumer wants.”

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