I am writing to object to the granting of a licence to Betfred at the Prince of Wales junction. As a local resident, with a local workplace, and as a frequent user of the shops and market at the ‘Prince of Wales’ junction, I am convinced that a betting shop on this dominant site will be harmful to the area.
Considerable efforts have been made in recent years to improve the ‘piazza’ opposite the Prince of Wales, which had been plagued by crack-dealing and street drinking. It was necessary to have a dedicated police team just to deal with the problems in the area. Despite the combined efforts of the Council, Local Area Partnership, traders and residents, this has not been a quick or easy task and whilst much progress has been made, the area still faces challenges. There is a high level of deprivation in the surrounding streets and estates and several services close by providing support for vulnerable people, including Westminster Drugs project, Central and North West London Mental Health service and City Living for people with learning disabilities.
Whilst it is important that a betting shop in this location would be the 8th within a short radius (not least because recent figures indicate that £5m was lost to Fixed Odds Terminals alone in north Westminster last year) what is particularly significant is the importance of this site. Any sustained improvement in the area must start with the ‘corner’ premises of the junction- of which the former Prince of Wales is easily the most physically significant. This site becoming a betting shop sends a signal that we have ‘lost’ the square as a managed, mixed, safe and potentially vibrant part of the community.
I have made direct representations to BetFred in respect of this site, and regret that they have not chosen to respond. I therefore very much hope that Westminster is able to act in the community interest and refuse a licence for these premises.
Labour Candidate, Westminster North