Published: June 22, 2011
Highbridge residents react with dismay to gambling arcade decision

Residents in Highbridge have reacted with dismay to the district council's decision on Wednesday (June 22nd) to give the go-ahead to controversial plans to convert this town centre tattoo shop into a new gambling arcade.

Sedgemoor District Council's Licensing and Gambling Panel made the decision regarding 'Casino Slots' at 2 Market Street during a meeting in Bridgwater.

Cllr Helen Groves, who spoke on behalf of Burnham and Highbridge Town Council, objected to the plans on the grounds of protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling.

She told after the meeting she was "very disappointed" by the decision.

She added: "I am extremely disappointed that the panel felt unable to uphold the objection of the Town Council and that no consideration could be made of the social impact of the arcade. It is my sincere hope that the applicant does robustly monitor the usage of this facility and does apply the membership and social responsibility controls he has indicated. I truly regret that on this occasion the outcome was not the one that I understand the community to have wished."

And Tina Gray, from Highbridge Residents Association, told she was "shocked and horrified" by the district council's decision.

The applicant, Michael Childs, assured councillors at the hearing that the arcade would not target young people with its £500 jackpot machines and that a strict membership system would be in place.

A spokeswoman for Sedgemoor told "We have heard evidence from the applicant, Michael Childs, as to his application and find that the premises are not located in the vicinity of any school or park and have received evidence from him regarding his management of the premises."

"We are satisfied that he has in place provisions to satisfy the Code of Practice restricting access to the premises to children and vulnerable persons and that Mr Childs has undergone appropriate training and has undertaken to ensure all staff receive suitable training."

"We have considered the evidence presented by the Town Council. We acknowledge the genuine concerns of the Town Council regarding gambling and its possible effects upon children and vulnerable persons. The Town Council’s concerns regarding the crime and disorder in the area are not in themselves directly related to children and vulnerable persons."

"Such concerns could have been presented by the police but no such representations had been received."

"The Town Council’s representations regarding alcohol related incidents and smoking are not sufficient to demonstrate that in themselves they will have any direct impact on children or other vulnerable persons."

The application was granted on condition that the windows to the premises will be obscured to prevent the viewing of the interior from the exterior and that all staff employed on the premises shall undergo appropriate training before commencing employment.


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