Portland Bookmakers' right to reply

Last night, someone from Portland Bookmakers posted some comments on the site. At first anonymously and then as simply Portland.

You can read their comments towards the bottom of this thread. Their stated reason for coming on the site was because Brockley Central "is very informative and I wished to contribute." They then complained that people on the site were not sufficiently well informed about the facts of the case.

Well, just for the record, here is the exact wording of an email we sent to Portland in January 2008:

I write for a news website for Brockley, called Brockley Central. The site has been following the progress of your application to operate a betting shop on the site of the former Homeview video store, Brockley Road. I was wondering, given the Council's decision not to grant permission, whether you have decided what your next step will be? Given that Brockley seems to be going through a period of urban renewal, are you considering selling the site or making an appeal. Please let me know if you have any comment.

Although there has been a lot of controversy about your proposals, I can promise that the quote you provided would be treated fairly and reproduced accurately. I am just looking to establish the facts.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes

Portland chose not to take advantage of that offer, although it is still open.

And in the interests of establishing the facts, it is true that Portland did set up a website for the Brockley community, which did contain a lot of information about their proposals. Our reaction to what the site had to say can be found here.


Anonymous said...

Has the Portland website closed or moved on?

andy pandy pudding & pie said...

It is quite interesting, this appears to be a small company with only one office.

I thought alot more people would be encouraged to see smaller firms expand and thus retain a redistribution of income amoungst the less wealthy?

Better a smaller company rather than a larger one.

We need to assess what the situation will be if it didnt go ahead rather than just a blanket objection. Will the unit be empty? Is it better to have any business rather than none? (local employment, tax revenue etc..).

I've stated earlier on a different thread that that area of 'southern brockley/crofton park' will go into relative decline compared to north brockley (station area). Although i was referring to crofton park, to a lesser degree this applies to southern brockley too.

If this doesnt go ahead, then it will be another equally drab business.

I think this is just another example of what i see predicting will happen to brockley to the brockley area.

We need to think very carefully about this, people power doesnt neccessary work out to be the most beneificial outcome....

Brockley Nick said...

Why is "small" inherently good?

On what basis do you assert that only another "drab" business would open there? If someone said the same thing about the west side of the station, you'd be up in arms!

Why do you think Moonbow's is always full, every hour it's open? It's because it's a good business and there is plenty of demand.

andy pandy pudding & pie said...

Just my preferences really, I think what alot of high streets/retail areas lack nowadays is smaller business/independent shops.

Most industries have been gobbled up by large corporates (who account for something like 90% of the market) and I personally would like to encourage smaller businesses to develop, who would normally have the incentive to actually 'respond' to the local community rather than 'processed unit' template of a business model rolled out across the UK. That would be far more drab.

I cannot see, convincingly, that a large corporate would have the neccessary flexiblity to meet local demands given the internal control environment is heavily regulated (i.e. enron fallout). Everything is processed. If you dont fit in the process, then its incredibly hard to get served by a large corporate.

with regard to another drab business opening, I'm trying to look at the dynamics. The logical place to start a 'nice' shop would be around the station not anywhere else around the area. Its the identity of an area that makes people shop there and coulgate street already has that identity (and pretty much a captive audience).

Maybe a few drab shops will open westside, depends on the rent being charged, but its unlikely given that rental yields generally around the station will go up.

I do like Moonbrows and maybe i'm mis-informed. When i went there (sunday i think) it wasnt very busy and i actually didnt like the coffee at all (hurray for Broca!). But it was a nice building. I had my concerns about the 'hanging electric wires' from the till area to the door out at the back which I'm pretty sure may be breaking some sort of health and safety laws (but i'm trying to keep that a low profile concern - but since you raised it!).

On a seperate note, Nick i think it is absolultely amazing how much work you put into this blog - it really is a credit to provide so many new articles each day... I hope you don't get in trouble at work! (assuming you work that is!).

andy pandy pudding & pie said...

Opps.. abit too long - sorry!

jon s said...

APPP, so on the west side you would be against (eventually) a cafe nero or Pizza Express opening then???

I've never understood the small vs large thing. Personally, I prefer a mixture of both. Large businesses generally have lower prices, pay their employees the minimum wage or above and more uniform quality standards, including shop fittings. Small businesses find niches and fill in the gaps.

Some small business pay less than the minimum wage, and pay "cash in hand". If they have to avoid paying people or taxes properly, they are not viable businesses.

Post ELL, bring on Pizza Express, Nando's, Tesco Express, Starbucks, Leon, etc. (but not a bookie) to Brockers............

Brockley Nick said...

Thanks Andy, but having articles described as patronising drivel is reward enough! ;)

Anonymous said...

Whether it's an independent bookies or not the point is it's going to be a bookies on a small parade of shops where there already is one and on a parade where ex gamblers are housed to try and recover.
Whether it's Corals or BetFred we're still in the same boat.

I don't think any of our points have been misinformed. The point raised in the previous blog was that catcherside who is definitely working at Portland (because he said so under oath in court) sneared at the possibility of living in Brockley which shows what they think of Brockley.

Portland also mislead us about the change of use. In order to get the change of use they told the council it was going to be an estate agent.
Portland placed signs for the betting licence during the Christmas holidays when everyone's away and wouldn't notice it. Even the magistrate had to adjourn this because he didn't think it was fair on the community.

Portland in court presented plans for the shop which they said they submitted to the council and said "it was obvious it was going to be a betting shop". Well those plans were entirely and utterly different to what was submitted to the council.


SJW said...

I thought the issue was all finished with and they could not open a betting shop. Is their another appeal . I am not bothered either way what the shop is, I like a punt now and again, but it would be nice to have something there. Also I agree about the coffee in Moonbows, not up to a high standard at all.

Pete said...

Their hot chocolate is nice though.

Anonymous said...

Well betting shops are really only interested in making a fast buck, as indeed are their customers.

All businesses must profit in order to survive and the must offer something for such there is a clear demand.

This and all other book makers know their customer base and it is the habitual gambler. They are also acutely aware that the Gambling Act has legitamised something that is known as the 'crack cocaine' of betting shops. The fixed odds betting machines.

Based on games like Blackjack and Roulette, these casino games machines are highly addictive. None of the waiting around for a race to start or the studying of form. These machines offer casino style odds and the fast that comes with computerized gaming machine.

They will try to dress it up as entertainment and follow guidelines regarding the handling of 'problem gamblers'. But it will remain fundamentally exploitative and there are plenty of people out there that could tip over the edge.

I have a theory that the law was changed to deal with the emergence of Internet gambling. Betting shops will be the place to go for those who don't have a computer or broadband link. This way the ExChequer gets a cut rather than some offshore company.

This is a nationwide experiment. The idea is that this proliferation of betting shops will be closely monitored and the terms of the licenses and number of betting machines adjusted should there be problems. How this will actually work is unclear.

One thing is clear and that is the smaller betting shop chains see this as a way of breaking the long held dominance by the big chains.

Whether community activism can influence events is key here. But it is hardly fair, benefitting areas that have articulate local activists. I daresay these chains of betting shops have a large number of applications in the works all over the place.

This is a gambling boom. Betting shops are to gambling what Estate Agents were to the property boom. Both are blight on our shopping areas.

sjw said...

I will have to give the chocolate a try. Anon, whats the problem with wanting to make a buck fast or otherwise. Though as a horseracing follower I agree fully with your comments regarding Fixed odds terminals and online gambling both are much more addictive. I commented on the other blog about how they are starting to faze them out in Australia as they have realized what a serious gambling problem they cause. Australian problem gambling is about 3 times worse than in this country and they don't allow bookmakers to advertise and don't have proper bookmaking shops, only The TAB, as in the UK.

Anonymous said...

The coffee in all these cafes is poor, decent coffee is freshly roasted and ground and presented in a cafetiere with a choice from a range of different beans from coffee growing regions of the world.

In Expresso bars the coffee is invariable supplied under contract from the supplier of the machine. Illy, Seafredo, lavazza - Italian coffee suppliers dominate. The coffee is cheaply bought and has to heavily doctored with syrups, marshmallows, cream and foam to make it accepable.

Just as cocktails were invented to disguise the awful taste of prohibition era liquor. So too, do these coffee concoctions disguise the inferior nature of what lies beneath.

It would be nice to have a proper coffee shop in the area. They are few and far between.

sjw said...

That sounds like a great use for Homeview. I would certainly like to buy proper coffee.

JPM said...

Wynne-Hatton Leisure Organisation Ltd is trading as "Portland Bookmakers". Companies House
Registration Number: 4583721. Date of Incorporation:06/11/2002
The directors of the company are: WEAVER, Mark Steven, WEAVER, Karen Gerogina (Upper Belvedere, Kent), KING, John David, WYNNE, Lisa (Welling).
More to follow...

JPM said...

Forgive the typo, one of those names should have read: "Georgina".

Danja said...

The coffee in all these cafes is poor, ... In Expresso bars the coffee is invariable supplied under contract from the supplier of the machine. Illy, Seafredo, lavazza

It would be nice to have a proper coffee shop in the area. They are few and far between...

Someone with taste, although I'll go for a (fresh) filter out of preference, as the finer grind helps.

Expresso is ok, but burning the beans and then chucking steam through them isn't going to make the most of a good coffee (but will obscure much of the mediocrity of a mediocre one).

Americano makes me want to butcher the people who think it's an acceptable form of coffee.

Anonymous said...

Exactly what does another bookmakers 'bring' to Brockley?

And the fact that they have been underhand throughout the application process...hmmmmm.

andy pandy pudding & pie said...

Danja, you need to kill me - i always drink americano :o) I dont like all the creme/milk etc given the quantity that I sometimes drink!

Ok, lets open a 'real' coffee shop, for the 'real' centre of brockley - that being the immediate west of the station.


Anonymous said...

It brings four more Fixed Odds Betting Machines.

Brockley will be at the cutting edge of gambling innovation with casino game betting machines on the street corner.

It is all part of a national experiment called the Gambling Act.

Brockley is not alone, Portland previously tried to get established in Sydenham.

The act has led to a proliferation of bookies. Eventually there will be a market shakeout and some will close.

It will mess up our shopping streets no end, as bad as those pesky estate agents.

Headhunter said...

Danja, isn't an Americano basically a filter coffee anyway as opposed to a latte which is an espresso with lots of hot milk or cappuccino which is an espresso with a lot of foam? As far as I understood, the Americano was developed by Italians to provide a longer coffee drink without all the milk for Americans who couldn't deal with little shots of espresso.

You say you like filter coffee, ipso facto you like an Americano? No?

Anonymous said...

God I can't stand coffee purists. No coffee ever seems to be good enough for them. Wine lovers generally like lots of different wines. Self-proclaimed coffee lovers only like the most obscure brand of coffee they can possibly lay their hands on and proclaim all other coffee to be tasteless pap.

Get over yourselves, there are more important things in life.

Anonymous said...

c'mon lets not get too carried away. I agree that the station is probably very close the epi centre, particularly with all the new shops, etc but westside isn't the centre - and I'm a Westsider.

Anonymous said...

Coffee Purists? This is entirely a reaction of american owned chain stores adding brand values to a product that is consumed almost everywhere in the world. Ridiculous.

Coffee is entirely a matter of personal taste - The Turkish are proud of their coffee, as are the Italians, but both are completely different.

Anyone who harps on about coffee with faux snobbery is exposing themselves to be utterly without class.

Anonymous said...

An Americano is just an expresso shot topped up with hot water.

Filter coffee is different, you should be able to choose the coffee rather than just put up with whatever rubbish goes into the expresso machine.

Starbucks actually have a seperate filter coffee option which is far superior to the expresso coffee.

JPM said...

What's wrong with instant?

Headhunter said...

Re Americano - oh I see. fact for the day....

Instant? I don't consider myself a coffee purist but instant is usually pretty revolting. I only drink it at work because there's no choice and I need caffeine to keep up with the heavy workload/writing comments on the Brockley Central blog...

Anonymous said...

Coffee purists?

Tosh, I just want a decent cup of coffee rather the cheap stuff dished out by every man jack who decides to buy an expresso machine.

They don't put all that cream and syrup in it because the coffee tastes nice.

It is quite clear the some of you out there have had your tastebuds dulled by exposure to a consistently poor product.

It is not pretention. I just don't like paying loads for crap, when it can be made well.

Now, if any of you know of a place that does coffee by the cafetier and has some decent varieties to choose from, let us know.

JPM said...

I only ask because every time a builder tips up at my place he asks for 'fresh'. The look I get when I serve up fresh instant is amazing.

Anonymous said...

for cafetiere coffee and lots of freshly-ground beans to choose from, see royal teas in greenwich. On royal hill. lovely. and i haven't even mentioned the home-made cakes..

Anonymous said...

Splendid though Royal Teas certainly is, it is in Greenwich. One would have thought that the various coffee bar entrepreneurs might have aimed a little higher than the make-a- fast-buck espresso market. Until that day dawns the crotchety curmugeons that reckon Brockley has been colonized by the unspeakable of East Dulwich, those rotund instant coffee quaffers and imbibers of tea by the pint pot. Well they can snore soundly in their beds. Brockley has not yet arrived, it remains the home of the mediocre and the familiar.

East Dulwich has a place called the Chandelier. Rather like a French Salon de Tea. Sadly they don't would not top up my tea with hot water. Which is quite an apalling policy.

Why should quality always be associated with a snotty attitude? Why are nice looking places so pretentious? Why does artistic chic always seem to involve shabbiness and broken furniture?

It must be a sad heritage of class division. Snobbery and inverted snobbery. I do wish people would lighten up....including me.

Anonymous said...

It's espresso, people. Three ssses. Italian. And while I'm on about it, the g in tagliatelle is silent. And bruschetta is pronounced brusketta not brushetta.

Anonymous said...

you must be one of those fancy new city types moving in to the area that I've been hearing so much about!

Danja said...

I can't stand mindless relativism.

I also hate Turkish coffee - burnt to a cinder, then made gaggingly sweet to cover it up.

I'm sure random Turkish bloke would dislike the coffee I like just as much.

That's OK. It doesn't make him or me pretentious, as far as I'm concerned.

I think* it's far more pretentious to say that it is wrong to like or dislike something because everyone's different, as if that is some staggering leap of intellect that allows one to assume the moral high ground.

*This is just what I think, so I think that has to be equally valid as any other opinion, right?

Hmm, nice lunch. *hic*

Headhunter said...

Anon 07 March 2008 16:09 - I don't think it is necessarily "brus-ketta" always, I think in parts of southern Italy and Sicily it can be "brush-etta"... Correct me if I'm wrong, Monkeyboy?

Headhunter said...

Anon 07 March 2008 16:09 - I don't think it is necessarily "brus-ketta" always, I think in parts of southern Italy and Sicily it can be "brush-etta"... Correct me if I'm wrong, Monkeyboy?

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