Yorkshire council set to back curbs on payday lenders

ANOTHER Yorkshire council is expected to back a campaign calling for new regulations to allow local authorities to restrict the number of betting shops on high streets.

York Council looks set to join with councils in Bradford, Wakefield, Rotherham and Leeds asking the Government for tougher planning and licensing rules relating to betting shops.

The campaign was started by Hackney Council whose Mayor, Jules Pipe, last month accused betting shops of “cynically targeting deprived communities” and acting like “financial vampires feeding off vulnerable people.”

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Yesterday York’s Labour leadership said the proposed regulations should also be extended to limit the number of payday lending shops.

They said the rapid rise in such outlets ran contrary to the city’s anti-poverty strategy.

They cited Front Street in Acomb as one of the areas with a large concentration of both betting shops and payday loan companies.

York Council’s Labour leader, Councillor James Alexander said: “The proliferation of payday lenders and betting shops is socially damaging and the Labour council in York supports any attempts to halt this spread in some of our most deprived communities.

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“There is a growing acceptance nationally that not only is this a moral issue but one that hampers the efforts of local councils to alleviate poverty, foster sustainable growth and promote self-sufficiency in those areas most affected.”

A motion will go before a meeting of York council next week calling for action.

It is being proposed by Heworth councillor Barbara Boyce and Westfield councillor Steve Burton.

Coun Boyce said: “Hackney Borough Council has taken the initiative in seeking Government support for granting greater planning and licensing powers to local authorities. From my experience as Chair of the council’s Licensing Committee, this would give greater power to control a proliferation in betting shops and payday lenders and therefore I’m 100 per cent behind this motion.

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“This should be a motion supported by all parties as city leaders seek to work together in ending poverty in our city. Betting shops and payday lenders run contrary to this aim and they must be a focus in any efforts to tackling poverty.”

Coun Burton added: “The current lack of powers for local authorities to deal with a rapid rise in betting shops and payday loans within concentrated areas is very concerning. This is a particular issue when payday loans are currently virtually uncapped whilst the spread of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals remains unregulated.

“City of York Council has a robust Anti-Poverty Strategy but approval of this motion would make a major contribution to the success of that strategy – as well as helping to preserve the city centre’s unique character.”

The motion says that dealing with the proliferation of betting shops and payday lenders in certain areas would make a significant contribution to the council’s anti-poverty strategy as well as preserving the city centre’s unique character.

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Hackney Council has been working to crack down on gambling outlets for over five years under the Sustainable Communities Act which allows councils to propose new powers to solve problems in their communities.