Traders fight plan for bookies at Barking Station
- Credit: Archant
Plans to open a betting shop in Barking Station have been met with fierce opposition amid fears the numbers of bookmakers is spiralling out of control.
Betting shop chain Coral has submitted plans to Barking and Dagenham Council to take over a unit occupied by money transfer shop Budul.
Coral already has two shops in Station Parade.
If the proposals go ahead, the street will have five betting shops, and the borough will be home to 42.
A number of business owners have launched a petition against the plans, supported by Abbey ward councillor Tariq Saeed
Cllr Saeed said: “I am extremely concerned about this. Betting shops often lead to antisocial behaviour and we have far too many of them already.”
The news came as the council launched a public consultation on potential measures to tackle the number of bookmakers in the borough.
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These include changing the classification of betting shops so companies would be forced to apply for planning permission to convert a shop or a food and drink outlet.
In the case of Barking Station, Coral must apply for permission anyway, because the unit is listed as a travel agency.
The council also hopes to introduce a 400-metre exclusion zone around existing bookmakers to prevent a high concentration of the premises in one area.
Narendra Lodhia, owner of Station Jewellers in Barking Station, said he was furious about Coral’s plans.
“I have seen a lot of antisocial behaviour because of the ones already here,” he told the Post.
“People get angry when they lose money. There’s been lots of fights.
“Having so many betting shops in one area also means there’s no variety of shops – which keeps shoppers away.”
A Coral spokesman defended the plans, saying betting was a leisure pursuit enjoyed by millions and there was “sufficient customer demand” to sustain a shop at the station.
Rail company c2c, which owns the station, said no contracts had yet been signed and it would be up to the council to decide whether the plans get the go-ahead.
n To take part in the council’s public consultation, which ends on June 26, go to barking-dagenham.limehouse.co.uk/portal.