THE growth of betting shops and payday lenders faces new curbs by Christmas, with the campaign against their proliferation taking a major step forward.
Glasgow City Council, which has been at the vanguard of advocating new planning laws forcing bookies to seek consent for new outlets, has backed ministerial proposals to hand councils new powers to deal with the issue.
The local authority is campaigning against clusters of betting shops and pay day lenders, and their impact on poverty has already sparked Government moves to change the law.
Loading article content
It has now thrown its support behind Holyrood proposals, which will see new legislation prepared as soon as the middle of next month. The plan is for this to be laid before Parliament in December.
The new legislation will recommend ministers put bookies in their own usage class, preventing them from taking over everything from local banks to insurance offices without the need for planning permission.
With the regulation of gambling currently a reserved matter for the UK Government, the move will give planning authorities the opportunity to control such development.
Town centre strategies claiming "further provision of particular activities would undermine the character and amenity of centres or the well-being of communities" could then prevent over-provision and clustering.
But predicting a court challenge by betting firms, Glasgow has also called on ministers to carry out more research and policy guidance on over-provision and clustering to reinforce local efforts.
The city's treasurer, Paul Rooney, said: "People in our communities see a third, fourth or fifth bookies appear on their doorstep and, quite understandably, they want to know why their local councillors don't seem to be able to do anything about it.
"We want to give a bit of power back to those people. If the government is prepared to back our proposal, any new bookies will need planning consent and neighbours will always have a chance to be heard."
New research has shown Glasgow to have the highest number of pay day loan and bookies in any council area in the country.
The city has 51 payday shops, while Birmingham is second highest with 45 stores, despite having almost double the population.
Meanwhile, Glasgow has 243 betting shops, compared with 186 in Birmingham.
The Campaign for Fairer Gambling is making a submission to the Government's consultation "calling for both these industries to be treated similarly, giving some power back to Scottish councils to curb their high street presence".
A Scottish Government spokesman said: "Scottish Planning Policy was revised in June in response to concerns about the proliferation of such activities.
"It considers the impact on the character and amenity of town centres and high streets and the wellbeing of communities."
The spokesman continued: "The intention is to remove planning exemptions so that more of these uses would in future need planning permission.
"The proposals would not affect existing betting offices or payday lending premises."