Betting shops for tourists?

Cllr Jonathan Garston, Conservative member for Milton and Portfolio holder for Planning, asserted at last night’s Place Scrutiny Committee that the reason that Southend-on-Sea has a higher concentration of betting shops than other local authorities in Essex because it is a tourist destination. He described comparing Southend-on-Sea with the rest of Essex as “unfair”.

Cllr Garston’s claim that betting shops are a magnet for day trippers and visitors stretches credibility. Whilst some visitors may pop into a bookies, this will not be their reason for coming to the town.

Jonathan further stated that the comparison should be like for like; Southend-on-Sea should be compared with Blackpool and Brighton. I do not agree that my original set of figures was ‘unfair’ (as an Essex activist I like to know the data for my county, and see how different places compare) – aren’t Clacton, Maldon, Brightlingsea, Harwich etc. equally resort-towns?

Anyway, here is the data for non-Essex seaside places:

authority Number of people per betting shop licence
(people over 15 years of age)
Ranking all local authorities on a scale of deprivation
(where 1 is most deprived and 4 is least deprived)
this borough is in band
Blackpool 2747 1
Sefton 3281 2
Sunderland 3721 1
Southend-on-Sea 3758 2
Copeland 3960 2
South Tyneside 3997 1
Bournemouth 4364 2
North Tyneside 4413 2
Brighton and Hove 5030 2
Great Yarmouth 5081 1
Scarborough 5453 2
Waveney 5694 2
Eastbourne 5979 2
Thanet 6122 1
Weymouth and Portland 6133 2
Hastings 6773 1
Plymouth 7657 2
Isle of Wight 7813 3
Cornwall 11223 2
Wirral 17640 2

Southend-on-Sea still rides very high, highest in southern and eastern England. Southend-on-Sea is only bettered (which is probably the reverse of the word I should be using) by two places in the north-west and one in the north-east.

Like-for-like, Southend-on-Sea manages a far higher density of betting shops than Bournemouth, Brighton, Margate (Thanet) and Hastings.

What excuse will Cllr Jonathan Garston now trot out?

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One Response to Betting shops for tourists?

  1. I’m a Labour member researching this from an alternate perspective to you. I support the 2005 Act’s approach except that we need far better self exclusion, harm minimisation and NHS treatment.

    Like you I am a numbers guy so I have done a series of FOI requests to every council to track the change in betting office numbers by borough since they started licensing (2007) to end 2013/today. Like you I want to map this against boroughs assessed by ranking for deprivation.

    Southend and Blackpool are yet to reply, nor has Skegness (East Lindsey) but the picture in seaside resorts is mixed but surprising for many, given Brighton is a leading council in opposing the proliferation of bookmakers….

    Brighton 2007 =51 2013 =47
    Great Yarmouth 2007 =16 2013 =16
    Hastings 2007 =20 2013 =12
    Clacton(Tendring) 2007 =20 2013 =18
    Eastborne 2007 =17 2013 =16 (1 pending now)
    Weston (North Somerset) 2007 =16 2013 =20

    As you can see whilst North Somerset rose (9-11 in Weston itself) the trend is not a rise in seaside resorts it is a fall 140 – 129.

    I suspect moves to more prominent sites, the signage used etc means that many see a big rise in numbers as having happened when in truth it just has not – all that has happened is that they are on more prominent sites, made available by a more general decline in the high street.

    As an interesting exercise in psychology – do you think when Southend reply to the FOI request arrives it will show a rise or a fall in bookmaker numbers?

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