THATCHAM “deserves better” than having another betting shop.
That was the reaction from town councillors discussing the recently-approved plans for Coral to open a new bookmakers in the town.
West Berkshire Council gave the green light for the betting giants to open in part of the former HSBC bank in the Broadway.
When it opens, Thatcham will have four bookies, but the district council said that “would not create a cluster of betting shops”.
However, town councillors disagreed, saying that Coral joining three other bookies in the town, Stan James in the Broadway; Tom Caroll in High Street; and Ladbrokes in Crown Mead, was too much.
Now it has planning permission, Coral has applied for a betting licence to install fixed odds betting terminals, or gambling machines, in the shop.
Commenting on the gambling machines, Lee Dillon (Lib Dem, Thatcham north) said: “They attract young people and you can lose your weekly wage playing those machines.
“We have a spate of betting shops in the town centre and I think it (the building) would be of better use than a betting shop.”
Conservative councillor Rob Denton-Powell (Thatcham south and Crookham) added: “I’m utterly disappointed with this.
“It’s ridiculous that we have so many betting shops so close. The market can’t sustain that number of betting shops.”
However, he added: “It doesn’t seem we can do an awful lot apart from express our disappointment.”
Chairing the meeting, Richard Crumly (Con, Thatcham central) said: “We have heard how easy it is for some people to squander their earnings on these machines.
“Thatcham needs more diversity of outlets and independent shops and not a plethora of estate agents, tattoo parlours, charity shops and hairdressers.
“Thatcham deserves better,” he concluded.
In its application, Coral, which merged with Ladbrokes in 2015, said that there had been no significant or serious physical or violent offences against colleagues at its shop in Crown Mead.
The new shop will be open between 9am and 10pm and it was the view of managers that crime was not expected to be a problem.
However, staff would have to be aware of beggars and youths attempting to enter, and monitor who was using the machines.