Councillors restrict number of gambling machines at Northampton hotel

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Councillors have restricted the number of gaming machines at a Northampton hotel after fearing it would attract gamblers from outside of the town centre.

The Westone Manor Hotel, in Weston Favell, had its application for a gaming machine permit granted by councillors, but they substantially reduced the number of machines the hotel hoped to install in their new games room.

The hotel had applied to install 15 machines in total, 11 of which were category C machines offering prize stakes of up to £100. They also applied for four category D machines, with a substantially lower cash offer. The machines would be in a secure room on the hotel's ground floor.

But members of Northampton Borough Council’s licensing committee restricted the application to cover just the four category D machines instead.

Patrick Robson, of John Gaunt & Partners, represented hotel manager Hurrydwar Sookun at the proceedings on Monday evening, telling councillors: “It’s outside the town centre and there wouldn’t be anyone in the town centre wanting to go ten minutes down the road to the games room at the Westone Hotel.

“We don’t think there would be a high external demand for the facilities, although they would be welcome to come in. There’s no intention to advertise the gaming room, or to allow under 18s in.”

The hotel, in Fir Tree Walk, said that profit was not the reason behind the application, with Mr Sookun instead saying they wished for more amenities for guests.

But chair of the committee Councillor Penelope Flavell questioned why the hotel wanted so many machines, while fellow committee member Phil Larratt dismissed that money was not a driver behind the scheme.

He said: “I’ve been involved with social clubs, and I know of one place where two category C machines kept the place afloat. I’ve witnessed people stand there and in one night feed these machines £200. So why did you say they are not a money spinner?”

In the end the licence was granted, but for the use of the four lower category D machines only as the committee felt that ‘a high number of category C machines will attract people from outside the hotel for the high prizes’.

Westone Manor attracted headlines earlier this year for being ordered to pull down part of an extension, after appearing to add two floors more than they had been given permission to build. The extension attracted 112 signatures in protest against it.