Brockley's Trial of the Century - Day 1

The hearing to consider the application to open a betting shop on Brockley Road began today and is expected to conclude tomorrow.

Local resident, Fiona Schofield, attended today's session along with a number of other residents opposed to the bookies.

The plans by Portland Bookmakers for the site of the old Homeview video shop have met with record levels of opposition - 137 individual letters of complaint were received by the magistrate.

However, according to Fiona, the only basis for rejecting the application was if it could be demonstrated that there was no demand for the service locally. Brockley Central always thought that it was impossible to prove a negative.

As a result, the hopes of residents (including those in Brockley Central Towers) who don't want yet-another bookies clogging up their high street, probably rest with the lawyers of Coral, who will argue that the local market simply doesn't justify the presence of a rival.

Portland's pitch is that they offer an altogether different experience from other bookmakers (and their potential rival, Coral, in particular), with "more sophisticated" punters relaxing in leather seats and enjoying a coffee while indulging in a personalised gambling service. We briefly imagined a cross between Moonbow Jakes and the Groucho with the odd horse race chucked in for good measure - a world away from the depressing, soulless stereotype. That fantasy lasted as long as it took us to download the photo gallery of their existing (Abbey Wood) branch on their website:

Hats off to them for seeking to put their case directly to residents of Brockley but you'd have to be a pretty keen gambler to spot the difference between that and a normal bookie, in our opinion.

Fortunately for Portland, they were able to produce three such characters, who attended to endorse the proposal. Fiona reports that Portland claimed to have leafletted homes in Ladywell to identify supporters.

We are prepared to believe that there is a qualitative difference between Portland and a.n. other bookie (or gambling at home, online, for that matter) but the fact remains that the target market is a tiny fraction of the local population, which is already pretty well catered for with gambling opportunities. Meanwhile, the fragile rejuvenation of the High Street hangs in the balance.

The hearing will almost certainly conclude tomorrow, so this will likely be an academic exercise, but we would be genuinely interested to hear from any readers who support Portland's plans other than on libertarian grounds.


Zeno said...

This is not the only trial this century...

John Paul Morgan -v- Transport for London ("the Authority")

A significant 'trial' is set to take place on the the 19th June involving the above.

Beware the Yellow Junction Box...

The issue: the Yellow Junction Box outside Goldsmith's College. The defendant claims that the 'YJB', now squeezed by the new bus lane, is poorly sited, and no more than a toll gate and cash cow for TfL.

A request has been made under the Freedom of Information Act in order to discover how much it is mugging drivers for.

Did you know that 95% of foreign vehicles are not pursued for a traffic offence? (The reason why many of them happily sit in the box.)

Have you noticed how much New Cross bound traffic has slowed as a result of the YJB? (Contrary to why it was sited there in the first place.)

Have you been caught out by the YJB Tollgate scam? If so, comments most welcome.

Parking and Traffic Appeals Service, an apparent independent tribunal parking and traffic penalties service in London is to decide the case. (Though it remains to be seen how 'independent' this adjudicator can be... the service is provided by London Councils Transport and Environment Committee..? Watch this space.)

barryls said...

Just seen the pic of the bookmakers, what a dump! What a shame that the Brockley regeneration will be held back by such an eyesore.

Jon said...

"This site has been introduced (and dedicated to) the residents of Brockley."

Ha-ha! I'm touched. Seriously though, fair play to them for putting up a website that addresses our concerns. I'm far from sold though, especially with the photos.

Also, I do find it somewhat unprofessional that they engage in correspondence on a personal level and post full names on the website, such as:

"We will do our best to make life as difficult as possible for you - A very constructive email?".

I'm sure the frustrated Mr. Lancaster-Smith didn't really want that email aired in public!

Anonymous said...

This is a nice quote:

"The truth behind the fact is that every local shopping area is losing traders through lack of business."

Tell that to Dulwich, Greenwich and Blackheath. Tell that to the cafes like the Broca and Ecosium that have moved in to the area recently.

The high street will lose trade if it's reduced to nothing but a string of rubbish bookies.

Glenda said...

So...fresh from a three day hearing in Bromley Magistrate's Court which ended yesterday (Friday 7 September 2007) I have the result of the application for a licence (in what was Homeview Videos) to operate as a betting shop. The RESIDENTS won their case opposing the granting of a licence. Yes that's right. If you opposed the betting shop (and there are 5 other betting shops in just over 1/4 mile radius, not to mention the betting shop directly opposite the proposed one) it's time to jump up and down or just to congratulate yourself for helping in this effort. A handful of us presented our case in court and were commended by the Magistrate for our presentation. BUT we can't rest yet.
The applicant Portland Bookmakers or Mr King or Mr Weaver are entitled to apply again immediately (under new legislation) and this time the licence is considered and granted or declined by Lewisham Council.

Here's what you can do.
1. Keep your eyes peeled for any signs which appear on the outside of Homeview or outside nearby (eg the pole that elevates the pedestrian crossing sign) which have Lewisham Council on and will say something like "A licence to operate as a bookmakers has been applied for....just guessing; and it should have a date to write in to the Council by in order to protest.
2.The Ombudsman has decided to investigate the granting of Change of Use from A1 to A2 (at former Homeview) If you wish to be considered as part of this investigation there is a petition to sign in Toads Mouth Too cafe.
This second one could be crucial as the Council will get an idea of the volume of people who say no! to another betting Shop and this can influence whether they grant a licence.

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