Tooting MP Sadiq Khan is celebrating this week after the government announced local councils will be given more powers to prevent betting shops from opening.
Mr Khan launched the Save Our High Street campaign in December 2013 after local businesses and residents raised concerns that the number of betting shops in Tooting had reached 22.
After months of campaigning, the government have announced that a new planning class for betting shops will help hand powers back to the local community
Over 1,000 local people have already shown their support for the campaign, and Mr Khan thanked them for forcing the government to finally take action.
“Together we have achieved this great success,” he said.
“Once this legislation has been introduced, the council will have no excuse for failing to clamp down on the number of betting shops opening. I will be monitoring them very closely to make sure they do.
Residents and businesses said they were pleased that something was finally being done.
Margaret Trower, 48, has lived in the area for the past seven years and is concerned that the growing number of betting shops has impacted on anti-social behaviour.
“I would like to see some nicer shops here if they do the place up,” she said.
“There’s too much crime in this area, I can’t even let my kids out to play safely. There’s always police sirens going off.”
Businesses also feel that area could benefit from a redevelopment.
Anita Ahmad, of Aubrey’s Discount Stores, Tooting, said: “I think they should get rid of betting shops altogether. I’ve had this shop open for over 50 years and I’ve seen everything change dramatically.”
Mrs Ahmad blames the councils for not doing enough although she has complained numerous times. She said she would like to see some more upmarket stores like Debenhams that may attract more people to Tooting.
Mr Khan said that although the government decision is a step in the right direction, there is still a long way to go to save high streets.
“The campaign doesn’t end here. We already have 22 betting shops in Tooting, 53 in Wandsworth and I want to see the government give our community the power to reduce that number too,” he said.
“Tooting is a fantastic place to live, and everyone in the local community is very proud of our area.
“We’ve seen some exciting new businesses open recently, including the Chicken Shop and The Little Bar and the national press have recently described Tooting as ‘cool’ – but that isn’t to say there isn’t room for improvement.”
While the Save Our High Street campaign was a resounding success, many punters switched to online gambling platforms. And with a high number of unlicensed operators on the market, UK punters are relying on reputable review pages to find safe online gambling venues. Meanwhile, the percentage of the total UK population displaying problematic gambling behaviours rose to 1.1% in the 35-44 years age group in 2021*.
*Data provided by Newcasinouk.com.
Follow us @SW_Londoner