And I've just learned that, as expected, Metrobet have appealed to the magistrate's court against the decision by Haringey Council to refuse their licence for the premises on the corner of Warham Road. Apparently the magistrates are initially taking advice as to whether they have any grounds to overturn the decision, after which they'll set a hearing date, or not.
I also heard some new information this week which means that whatever happens at the magistrate's court may well not decide the issue. Better, the company applying for a licence at 32-33 Grand Parade, originally applied for a gambling licence last year. The council rejected the application. Better appealed to the magistrates, where they also lost. They then made a further appeal to the Court of Appeals, where they won their case. (They should by rights be in operation by now. But a failure by the company or their lawyers to apply to convert the permission granted under the old Gambling Act, to a new Gambling Act permission, means they've had to start again).
My understanding is that no residents were present at the Court of Appeal. Perhaps if we'd been there they wouldn't have been successful. So if it goes that far again, let's hope, by presenting our case, we can be successful next time round.
Aren't there are two key questions? Do enough people now think that relaxation of the Gambling laws has gone too far and needs tightening-up? If so, how can pressure be brought on the Government to change the law?
I've no objection to betting shops as such. They were a sensible way of decriminalising and regulating an activity which existed illegally. Many people like a bet and they want a safe regulated setting. But their interests need balancing against other interests - like the viability and variety of local shops as a whole; and the potential for disorder. (Several Haringey betting shops are applying for extended hours. I've been told about fights over gaming machines. And I'm worried about the safety of staff and customers in local betting shops - especially late at night.
The betting shop companies are eager to expand. Currently, local Planning Departments, councillors, and even the magistrates, cannot effectively oppose this. The more profit made by the large gambling companies, the more they can pour into legal challenges and campaigns to prevent reform.
Picketing and petitioning raise the issue. I've tried show the problem by starting to photograph and map existing betting shops - to show where are now enough. Anyone else is welcome to help out!
But unless there is a significant change in the law , the views of local communities will be overridden by the interests of the betting shop companies.