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City council slammed for “incompetence” as new gambling venue approved

PUBLISHED: 16:38 08 November 2017 | UPDATED: 08:42 09 November 2017

Utopia store on St Stephen's Street, Norwich, which is set to be turned into an adult gaming centre. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Utopia store on St Stephen's Street, Norwich, which is set to be turned into an adult gaming centre. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2017

A new gambling venue will open in Norwich as the council have been slammed for allowing a “despicable industry” to grow in the city.

The “adult gaming centre” was approved by the council’s licensing department on Monday, but a number of responses were deemed invalid as the wrong consultation deadline was published.

They included the objection of Green party leader Martin Schmierer, for Mancroft ward, who said he was “furious” at the decision.

“The licensing committee has shown its disregard for the safety and wellbeing of residents by caving in to this irresponsible and dangerous industry,” he said.

MORE: Concerns over impact new adult gaming centre could have if approve

The new ‘adult gaming centre’ will be licensed to open all day and up until 1am, with machines with a maximum stake of £2.

“These machines are designed to be addictive, and they are part of a culture that normalises gambling,” added Mr Schmierer. “This is a deprived part of Norwich with high levels of poverty and addiction. I am appalled that the council sees no problem in allowing this despicable industry to get its claws into the neighbourhood.”

Mr Schmierer also said he had complained to the licensing department after his objection, which was received within the published consultation period, was ruled inadmissible. The council published a consultation deadline of October 2, but the applicant argued this was incorrect and should legally have been a day earlier. Objections received on 2nd October were therefore disallowed.

“It’s clearly not good enough when the council cannot even get its facts right, leaving others disadvantaged because of its incompetence,” he said.

“There was a similar fiasco with the recent applications for lap-dancing licences, where the consultation was not advertised online and even councillors were not informed.”

A spokesperson for Norwich City Council said there had been no legal basis on which to refuse the application.

“A number of objections were made to this application and were considered by the licensing committee,” they said.

“The application was granted in line with all relevant legislation and guidance.

“We apologise for the administrative error which lead to a discrepancy in the length of the consultation period by one day.”

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