Vir Cantium

I'm right, you know …

One Day, All This Will Be Coffee Shops

Or in the case of Deptford, bookies, if the delectable Joan Ruddock is to be believed.

LEWISHAM Deptford MP Joan Ruddock is battling to change the law on betting shops taking over the High Street.

(Well, it’s only a local rag. The sub-editor was probably making the tea at the time.)

On July 19 she presented a bill to the House of Commons proposing to change the planning class of betting shops and allow councils to place a cap on the number of them in an area.

Deptford currently has at least 10 bookmakers in the area with seven on the High Street alone.
She told the House of Commons she was not opposed to betting but was concerned about the number of betting shops appearing on the High Street and the lack of opportunity for people to have a say.

House in Deptford High Street

A Deptford Boutique

Hmm. Seven just in the High Street? They sound pretty popular then. My, anyone would think that the local community was rather keen on them. Apparently, it seems, the community ought to know better.

Ms Ruddock told Parliament: “Betting shops are proliferating, squeezing out diversity and attracting antisocial behaviour.

So, diversity in the High Street: good; diversity in, say, healthcare provision: bad. Got it.

“Again and again, when a property becomes vacant, another betting shop chain bids for the premises.

“Such properties have included some of the high street’s most iconic buildings.”

So what use should the most iconic buildings be put to that would gain Ms Ruddock’s approval? (Bear in mind that if you want a nice building looked after, the last thing you should do is put it in the hands of the public sector.)

Ms Ruddock added: “A turf war is now under way, as bookmakers, including new entrants, seek to seize market share.” [Emphasis mine.]

I see what she did there.

Anyway. It seems that dear Joan has gone down with a bad case of rose-tinted sentimentality. Harking back to the days when every High Street had a dedicated butcher, baker, candlestick maker and outreach project.

The things is, I wouldn’t mind betting (geddit?) that when these highly sought-after (*cough*) premises come on the market the other main bidders are take-aways, off licences and charity shops – the latter with the benefit of heavily subsidised business rates. One must assume therefore, given that Ms Ruddock must know her own area, that she would rather see another example of the above “diverse” selection of traders opening up than an evil bookmakers.

Deptford, though, is not alone in fighting the tide of consumer-driven change to the High Street. Not long ago there was another fight against an evil incomer in a more affluent neighbourhood:

STARBUCKS has been granted permission to open a coffee shop in West Wickham High Street despite objections from residents and shoppers.

Members of the West Wickham Residents’ Association are concerned by the increasing number of shops being replaced by cafes and restaurants in their high street.

So we have a residents’ association claiming to represent the same residents who clearly never cared enough to patronise the shops that were there before. Funnily enough, drive past that Starbucks today and you’ll notice that it isn’t exactly full of tumbleweed.

Yes, it is jolly nice to have agreeable boutiques and neat looking high streets like Blackheath, Chislehurst or Tenterden, but the market is, annoyingly, rather democratic. Like it or not, despite the better class of housing and resident slowly making their way down river from Greenwich, Deptford isn’t going to be able to support too many one-customer-per-day dress shops.

What Deptford’s residents are more concerned with is the 3:15 at Epsom; that’s the people’s choice. You’d think that a member of the people’s party would understand that concept.


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