Call for extra powers to curb betting shops

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Tighter controls on bookies are needed to stop deprived residents from spiralling into debt, Sheffield’s leaders have urged.

Sheffield Council has called on the Government to do more to stop clusters of betting shops from cropping up in some of the poorest communities.

Recent years have seen a surge in shop numbers, partly put down to fixed odds betting terminals, which allow people to stake as much as £100 every 20 seconds.

Firms are limited to five machines per premises, meaning more empty shops and properties are being bought up to house them.

With hands tied by the Government, the council’s planning committee is often left with no option but to approve changes of use.

Coun Leigh Bramall, council cabinet member for business, said: “Local authorities should be able to establish a separate planning class for betting shops.

“They should be given additional licensing powers to determine the number of FOBT machines.

“The Government should put people before the interests of the betting shop operators and give us the powers we need to respond to concerns from communities.”