Hundreds of people oppose bookmaker’s

Neil Bishop, manager of Darnall Forum
Neil Bishop, manager of Darnall Forum
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Controversial plans for a Paddy Power betting shop in a Sheffield suburb have attracted a 700-signature protest petition.

The proposals, for an empty shop unit on Main Road, Darnall, are set to be considered for planning permission by Sheffield Council before the end of the month.

Some 44 objections have been made to Sheffield Council as well as the petition, and Darnall councillors Mary Lea, Mazher Iqbal and Harry Harpham are also against the scheme.

Shabir Aziz, one of the petition organisers, said: “Businesses such as betting shops and takeaways changing the mix and make-up of retail shops in the area. The fact that there are already three betting shops close to each other.

“Secondly, the petition objects to Paddy Power in Darnall on the grounds of contributing to and exacerbating the problem of poverty and deprivation in the area.

“There is a link between gambling, poverty, and deprivation. There is no evidence that gambling establishments ‘revitalise’ areas.

“The third concern is public safety, particularly as the proposed Paddy Power shop would be situated directly in front of a main pedestrian crossing, which is used by our school children and pre-school groups. Since small groups of people tend to congregate outside existing betting shops, this is a concern.”

Neil Bishop, manager of Darnall Forum, said: “We would like to see a wide range of shops – not betting shops and nothing else. We want to go back to the days when Darnall was somewhere people used to visit.”

Forum chair Sylvia Hamilton added: “If betting shops and takeaways occupy the vacant units what happens when the economy recovers and other shops have nowhere to move to?”