Betting Shop applications for 67 High Street & 6-7 Hopkins Precinct
As many of you might be aware many people including a coach full of angry Alcester residents went to the recent West Area planning committee (Stratford on Avon District Council) on Thursday 17th May to object to a recommendation to grant planning permission to both the above.
You may have seen the Midlands Today on Friday 18th with a special news report about our protest. This can be viewed on line by going to www.bbc.co.uk/midlandstoday and follow the links.
(Can I just mention that the report does not do justice to the hard work that our County Councillor Nina Knapman has done on our behalf so thanks to her efforts and in particular organising the transport.)
Another big thank you Mathew Skinner of PSW who provided all the brilliant protest placards with 'Alcester v Betting Shops' and 'Extra Betting's a bad Bet' at very short notice. Its this kind of pulling together and community spirit that makes our town such a great place to live!
The story has also had good coverage by local radio (Touch Fm & BBC Coventry & Warks Radio) and media so see press for reports, particularly this coming weeks Stratford Herald which should have some good pictures of the demonstation outside the District Council Offices.
Be assured, this story is going to roll on and on as the proliferation of gambling in our High Streets is a national one and just something that has happenned to Alcester!
The good news is that the 67 High St. application got the thumbs down by ALL councillors! The reasons included the loss of A1 retail use, inappropriate stainless steel lettering and colour of the shopfront to the listed building in the conservation area.
We do however, need to keep vigilant on this matter as Betfred could take this to appeal and still persue their gambling licence application that has been deferred until September due to the number of objections.
Bad news on the Hopkins Precinct, which unfortunately was quickly passed with only 2 councillors against. This is a real disaster as Coral already had their license granted by the magistrates recently (despite their being letters objecting) so are free to go ahead and open up.
The only way we can fight against this is to appeal the decision which will involve legal representation and no doubt great expense. An action plan is currently being devised on the best way forward.
So, as you can see, there is still quite a way we have to go with this if Alcester is to truly take a stand against the gambling industry whose current strategy is to expand into High Street and communities like ours.
The use of email technology has no doubt been a hugely valuable tool in getting the word around in order to protest, as with out it we just wouldn't of got the volume of objections through at such a pace. A big cheer for all those who did so - I think you can definately say it was the power of the people who helped sway this one, albeit a 50% success rate.
And just because we have lost Hopkins, it doesn't stop us continuing to lobby our Council and West Area committe members to show that we weren't too chuffed at not being listened too.
This dedicated space on the Alcester town website is to keep the whole of the community informed of latest updates and information. This way when there's more action to be taken we can respond in more numbers through greater awareness.
As Gordon Brown said last Thursday "we must listen and learn from the people, particularly those who are not normally heard".
Well Alcester, get prepared SHOUT!