Anger over approval for Paddy Power betting shop in London Road
Controversial plans for a new betting shop have won approval despite the protests of local business owners.
Councillors on Tuesday night waved through proposals for Paddy Power to launch a new bookies in London Road after finding now legal grounds to reject them.
Shopkeepers last month rallied outside the proposed premises, formerly home to a Chicken Cottage takeaway, arguing that gambling was at odds with the need to regenerate West Croydon.
Councillor Tony Pearson, who sits on the Licensing Sub-Committee, said: "We understood the concerns of residents and Councillor Collins and they spoke very eloquently but there were no grounds to reject the application.
"The Licensing Act gives us little scope to reject on grounds of saturation and it gives no scope based on speculation on what might happen.
"There needs to be evidence and in this case it just wasn't there."
The approval, which comes in the wake of shock figures showing more than £160m was spent on betting machines in Croydon North last year, angered local business owners and some councillors.
Patrick Ratnaraja, director of Croydon Tamil Business Forum, said: "We are very disappointed with the councillors' decision, mainly because of the possibility of crime in the area.
"Mark my words, if they open there there is going to be trouble."
Bhupendra Solanki, building manager of the Croydon Voluntary Association resource centre, expressed concern over the high concentration of gambling outlets already in the area.
He said: "Such a high concentration of such establishments in such a small geographical area is not good for the reputation of the area and all the evidence shows that it leads to greater anti-social behaviour, crime and general degradation of a neighbourhood.
"It is extremely disappointing that, despite cross-party concern from all the politicians, that Croydon Council seem impotent in halting the degradation of London Road through the granting of more and more licences to betting shops, pawn brokers and payday loan shops – all establishments that exploit the poor and more vulnerable sections of our society."
Ganapathy Kasinathan, of the London Road Business Association, said before Tuesday's meeting: “This is a poor area and having another shop targets people already desperate for money.
“There is another Paddy Power just a few minutes walk away in North End, so there is no need for another. We want to regenerate this area and these types of shop do not help.”
Paddy Power said the new shop would have 'minimal impact' on residents and businesses.
It said: “The betting shop will open similar times to other surrounding shops.
“We consider the plans are entirely acceptable.”