Yesterday in Communities and Local Government questions I raised the issue of local authority licensing fees for certain categories of businesses in town centres. Currently, fees for applications to carry on business as a betting shop are currently capped at £2000, and the annual fee is capped at £1000.
To a betting shop operated by a giant gambling company, the fees are negligible anyway, and can be recouped incredibly rapidly from operating profits.
I think local authorities should be given the power to set fees that reflect their local area’s needs. In deprived areas, where betting shops can have a disproportionate social cost, local authorities ought to be given complete control over the licensing system.
Thankfully, Eric Pickles’ response was positive and receptive, and I will be writing to him to make sure that my suggestion is at least looked at in Whitehall.
Graham Jones (Hyndburn) (Lab): The Government talk about localism, but they still set the caps for the licensing fee's of various shops in town centres, including bookmakers and sex shops. Will they consider abolishing those caps and allowing local people and local authorities to set the levels?
Mr Pickles: That is an interesting and brave request, and I will consider it.