Third London Road Paddy Power given green light by Croydon councillors
A third Paddy Power betting shop in London Road has been given the green light, six months after councillors granted approval to a controversial second store just a few minutes walk away.
The Irish gambling chain is to open its eighth shop in Croydon - all in the north of the borough - after the council's sub-licensing committee granted permission on Tuesday night.
The plans were waved through despite objections from two local businesses and concerns over gambling problems in the Croydon North constituency, which has some of the highest levels of spending in betting shops in the UK.
The new store, 756 London Road, will sit just metres away from two other betting shops.
Afshan Ahmed, who owns Transformation beauty salon next door, had pleaded for Croydon Council to reject the application.
She said: "There are too many gambling shops around here already.
"It is just making problems because after four or five o'clock they are standing outside drinking. Cans of drink are left outside of our salon in the morning when we arrive to open up. There is fighting and swearing."
The 35-year-old added: "It is not right for the public, it is not right for the residents around here, it is not right for children and it is not right for businesses."
Gamblers spent more than £162m in fixed-odds betting shops in Croydon North last year, the 15th highest sum among UK constituencies.
Patrick Ratnaraja, director of Croydon's Tamil Business Forum, accused bookmakers of taking advantage of people on low incomes.
He said: "These shops are exploiting desperate people. The Government should give councils planning powers to curtail more betting shops."
The shop, previously an Indian restaurant, will be the second opened by Paddy Power on London Road this year.
Steve Reed, Croydon North MP, said the rise of bookmakers' was symptomatic of the "long-term decline" of London Road.
He called on Croydon Council to widen its town-centre regeneration scheme to include London Road.
The proposed new betting shop has concerned other business owners
Mr Reed said: "This sudden flowering of bookies, pawnbrokers and fried chicken shops is just a signal that the area is going downhill. It needs to be arrested and reversed.
"I think the council needs to include London as part of its central area regeneration plan. At the moment it isn't and it is in no one's interest. As long as they continue to neglect it this is going to keep on happening.
"The area looks really shabby and what we don't need is a load of bookies. We need a range of shops selling different things."
Councillor Tony Pearson, who sat on the licensing sub-committee, said there had been no option but to grant the new shop a licence.
He said: "Realistically there were no grounds to refuse it, but what we did do was look at residents' objections and discuss those with Paddy Power and took them in board. We got Paddy Power to agree to an exterior CCTV, which will hopefully allay some of the residents' fear.
"Unfortunately we can't turn down a license because there are problems elsewhere.
"In terms of the law, saturation is not a consideration. Most of us on the licensing committee would like to see some sort of policy on saturation but the law does not give us scope to do that."
Paddy Power defended its plans for the new shop, which it said would create five jobs.
A spokesman said: "Paddy Power is a responsible operator that takes proactive measures to offer a safe, responsible and enjoyable leisure experience for its customers and the community.
"We are committed to maintaining a close working relationship and open dialogue with all local councils to help achieve this and have worked with the local police on the approved licence."
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