DON’T BET ON IT

PLANNING officials have been urged to reject an application for permission to open another betting shop in Bellshill town centre.

Bookmaking chain Paddy Power have lodged an application with North Lanarkshire Council seeking consent to change the use of a former hot food takeway at 216 Main Street.

But the plan has angered a number of local residents and politicians concerned that the town already has enough betting outlets.

And Bellshill Community Council say that, as well as lodging a formal objection, they will also contact Prime Minister David Cameron and First Minister Alex Salmond direct to raise their concerns over the issue.

There are already six betting outlets operated by various firms in a relatively small area around Main Street, Motherwell Road and Hamilton Road.

And concern was expressed at the community council’s recent meeting that action was needed to prevent any more.

Community council secretary Duncan McLeod confirmed: “Bellshill Community Council have already made an objection to this application and I will be writing to the Prime Minister on gambling and gaming advertising.

“Another letter will be sent to Alex Salmond First Minister on the same.”

Their concerns are shared by Uddingston and Bellshill Labour MSP Michael McMahon and Central Scotland SNP list MSP Richard Lyle who said plans for another betting shop should be left at the starting gate.

Mr McMahon said: “While this is obviously a matter for the local authority, we have to look at what is being done in regenerating our existing town centres and question if the balance is right and whether there is over-provision of particular types of businesses.”

“What is the strategy of local authorities in terms of regenerating our town centres if the only people interested in coming to Bellshill seem to be bookmakers, amusement arcades and tan stands?

“We have to try to make sure there is no over provision and that there’s a balance within our town centres - it seems to be that in Bellshill town centre they are not getting the balance right.”

Mr Lyle added: “I think that we already have too many betting shops in Bellshill.

“We have got to try to encourage people back into shopping centres in order that entrepreneurs open shops and that’s the problem we have - too many people are not supporting their local shops often enough.

“I have nothing against the people who are making this application but I would hope that North Lanarkshire Council would turn it down on the grounds that there are already too many betting shops in the town.”