SHOPPERS in Northampton have called for a reduction in the number of bookmakers in the town centre after plans were revealed to open an eighth one.
There are currently six betting shops in the town centre, with a seventh to open shortly, and this week, Ladbrokes applied for planning permission to open another in the former Agora amusement arcade in Abington Street.
The shop would be the firm’s third branch in the town centre and would sit opposite a William Hill in Fish Street.
In documents submitted to Northampton Borough Council on behalf of Ladbrokes, planning experts Brian Barner Associates said the development would be “more appropriate” for the town centre than the previous amusement arcade.
The firm said: “Betting offices contribute to the vibrancy and vitality of a town centre and form part of the holistic shopping experience for many people.”
But some shoppers in Northampton yesterday said they thought there were already too many bookies.
Barry Martin, from Little Houghton, said: “I’m against gambling. There’s too much of it and there are definitely too many bookies in Northampton. I would have thought four or five would have been enough.” His view was backed by Colin Neale, from East Hunsbury, who added: “Eight would definitely be too many; they don’t really do the town any good in my opinion.
“I honestly don’t think they bring people into town and certainly not into the Market Square.”
Some traders on Northampton’s Market Square, where there are currently three betting shops trading and another about to open, also said their customers had complained about the number surrounding the historic square.
But Zoe Smith, who runs a flower stall, argued the betting offices were better than empty shops.
She said: “There must be a need for them if they’re making money and they are filling up empty shops, which is better than having nothing.”
Officials from Northampton Borough Council’s planning department are expected to decide if the Ladbrokes plan for Abington Street can go ahead by the end of the year.