May 20 2013 Latest news:
by Flora Drury
Friday, June 15, 2012
Top figures from the betting industry and political worlds came to blows in the high street today in a row over whether Tottenham has too many bookies.
Dirk Vennix, chief executive of the Association of British Bookmakers, this afternoon claimed the High Road does not have a problem with “clustering” of betting shops - as he stood in plain sight of four bookies.
These claims were met with anger by Tottenham MP David Lammy - who described the High Road as London’s own Las Vegas - and Cllr Nilgun Canver, both of whom have been campaigning for the government to grant councils more power to block bookies opening up.
Mr Lammy said: “You must be blind if you do not agree - there are four shops in this quarter alone.”
But Mr Vennix later told the Journal: “I do not call this clustering, in a street of 70 shops.”
The three argued openly during a walkabout on the High Road, during which they visited the recently re-opened William Hill, on the corner of Lansdowne Road, and the BetFred shops - both on the High Road.
Mr Vennix was keen to point out the benefits of the bookies to the local economy, which included more footfall and jobs.
He also denied the presence of bookmakers increased anti-social behaviour and that the industry was targeting more deprived areas, adding the proliferation of betting shops in areas like Tottenham was simply down to “market forces”.
Mr Vennix said: “The council has powers to revoke a premise’s licence on the basis of evidence of crime or the bookmakers not protecting the young or the vulnerable. Not one on this stretch has had its licence revoked.”
But Cllr Canver and Mr Lammy argued passionately betting shops were not what the people of Tottenham wanted - market forces or not.
Mr Lammy said: “My constituents say, ‘Why are there more bookmakers than bookshops?’. Actually, it is quite intimidating if you are a woman.”
Their views were backed up by passers-by, who were also keen to share their views.
One woman said: “You will never go to boroughs like Kensington and Chelsea and find them so close to each other so that people can lose their money.”