Stephen Timms, MP for East Ham, has today backed Labour’s plan to give councils the power to stop the spread in local communities of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs).
Recent evidence shows that vulnerable people are being deliberately targeted by firms placing FOBTs on local high streets. FOBTs are electronic roulette machines where people can bet up to £300 a minute, or £18,000 an hour.
In East Ham there are 41 betting shops operating with FOBTs on their premises - among the largest number of any constituency in the country - and Stephen is determined to stop their damaging effect on the local community.
So Stephen has today backed Ed Miliband’s plan to give local authorities powers to stop the spread of FOBTs, cut their number or ban them all together. Newham Council has repeatedly refused permission for new betting shops, but the refusals have simply been overturned on appeal, by government inspectors and courts. Labour’s proposals would solve this problem by putting betting shops in a separate planning class. Planning appeals will then be far less likely to overturn refusals.
Labour would also give councils the power to remove or limit the number of FOBTs in betting shops. Labour would also take steps to reduce the harmful effects of FOBTs by increasing the time between plays, requiring pop-ups to break up continuous cycles of play.
Stephen said: “The clustering of betting shops in High Street North, Green Street and elsewhere is causing serious harm to our shopping areas and to our community. That's why I’m backing Ed Miliband’s plan to let local councils decide whether they want betting shops and FOBTs on our high streets.
“There are around 160 machines in East Ham alone and their prevalence has huge consequences for families, for levels of crime and anti-social behaviour, and for the kind of community we live in.
“The time has come to give local people and local councils the right to decide if they really want their high streets to be the place for high stakes, high speed and high cost gambling.”