Shoppers want cap on bookmakers in Barking and Dagenham as new branch looms

Plans to open a new betting shop in Barking Town Centre have led to concerns among residents over the number of bookmakers in the borough.

The proposals came as shadow culture secretary Harriet Harman demanded action to stop betting firms taking over London’s high streets – accusing them of “predatory profiteering” in poor areas.

Jennings Bet plans to open an outlet in place of the British Heart Foundation shop in Station Parade, Barking.

The firm has already made a premise licence application, as required under the Gambling Act 2005, and residents have until next Wednesday (November 23) to make representations.

A number of people living in the area say the borough has too many betting shops already, but a spokesman from Jenning Bet said it believed there was a desire for the shop.

Resident Paul Scott, 35, of Sandhurst Drive, Ilford, said: “There are bookmakers everywhere – we really don’t need any more.

“What the area needs is a bigger variety of shops, not just bookmakers and pawnbrokers.

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“I believe the council or the government should put a limit on the amount of betting shops allowed in one area.”

A spokesman from Jennings Bet told the Post: “As a bookmaker that has been based in Essex for over 50 years and built a reputation for excellent customer service and offering that bit extra in value, we believe there will be sufficient residents and users of the town centre that would welcome our arrival in this particular locality.”

But Mr Scott’s views are echoed by other residents.

Tina Smith, 32, of Barking, said: “I don’t think there needs to be any more betting shops around here.

“You see them everywhere now.”

And John Hull, 46, also of Barking, added: “I go to the betting shop now and again, but I don’t think there needs to be any more in the area.”

Last week Ms Harman argued that betting shops were deliberately opening in poor areas, pushing families further in to poverty and said there was a link between benefit dependency and gambling.

In response Dirk Vennix, chief executive of the Association of Bookmakers, said there was no evidence to support this “unwarranted attack on a responsible and well regulated leisure industry.”