Report of the Director of Public Protection and Licensing.
4.1 The Committee received a report introduced by Mr Kerry Simpkin Interim Licensing Policy and Strategy Manager. The report considered the Council’s approach to the development of the Council’s new Statement of Gambling Principles (gambling policy) under the Gambling Act 2005 ahead of the public consultation in August and September. This included a draft proposal to introduce a formalised voluntary approach for operators to promote engagement with the local community before submitting a formal application to the council.
4.2 Mr Simpkin advised the Committee that there are three key areas within the report. First, the service had carried out research relating to vulnerable residents in 2015/16, which has been updated and transferred into index maps. Mr Simpkin advised the Committee that the maps highlight areas that have changed over the last three years and areas which will require further monitoring. The second area raised by Mr Simpkin was the Community Impact Assessment processes, which is an opportunity for operators to engage with residents much earlier in the process to hear their views and adapt the process if necessary. Mr Simpkin advised the Committee that the third matter for consideration, is the approach identified for consultation as set out in the report, which will be from July-September and seek formal approval for the policy at Full Council in November.
4.3 The Chair welcomed the report and thanked Mr Simpkin and colleagues for work lobbying the government for change on maximum bets for Fixed Odd Betting Terminals (FOBT). The Chair sought clarification regarding the timeline for completing this work. Mr Simpkin advised that the Government’s timeline had now changed and will not take effect until 2020, under the terms of a deal with the Treasury. The Chair queried the groups within the dataset and Mr Simpkins confirmed the figures represent the National Statistics for that area.
4.4 Ms Acik advised that the proposal to postpone the policy implementation until 2020 was announced in the last week. Ms Acik felt that discussions needed to be had, in terms of agreeing what the Council’s position would be and whether further lobbying would take place, in an attempt to bring that date forward. The Chair sought the Committee’s views and the Committee agreed that lobbying should occur to bring forward the implementation date.
4.5 Councillor Burbridge sought clarification on the acronyms for Gambling terminology and asked if this could be simplified. Councillor Burbridge also queried how officers could be sure of the numbers of residents living with mental health issues, living in City West Homes. Mr Simpkins responded to the query advising that information had been gathered through partners such as Public Health and Housing, GP referrals and NHS data. Councillor Burbridge felt that for specific data, officers should liaise directly with the Mental Health Assessment Team. The Chair requested that officers review current data sources and a briefing note be circulated to Committee Members.
4.6 Committee discussed the proposed timeframe for public consultation and the workshops organised for August. As many people will be away in August it was proposed this should be carried out in September.
4.7 Councillor Caplan advised that the Committee should not be moved on its policy and that it was very important that the Committee sends a strong message. Councillor Caplan also suggested that the Committee should take into account in their deliberations online gambling. Councillor Caplan advised the Committee that it would need to take care, and that by addressing the betting shops on the high streets, may drive the issue to unregulated sites online. Mr Simpkins advised the Committee the Council are only responsible for premises-based regulatory element, however one of the things that the Council can do is set out its concerns regarding online gambling within the policy.
4.8 The Chair asked how Officers engage with the online gambling industry. Mr Simpkin advised that WCC does not have a relationship with the online gambling industry and the policy is limited in terms of what the Council can and can’t specify in terms of gambling regulations. Councillor Hyams advised that online gambling adverts are everywhere and this should be a part of the Council’s policy. The Chair summarised that this should go back to the Cabinet Member as there appears to be is very strong support for this.
4.9 Councillor Wilkinson raised a query relating to the Community Impact Assessments as she felt that they do not address the impact of the proposals. She also queried the non-statutory requirement for applicants to carry these out and how the council may convince the applicant to complete such. Mr Simpkin responded to the queries advising that the impact had not been presented in the report as well as it could have been. The benefits for the operator will be in developing relationships with residents.
4.10 The Chair summarised that the Council should look more widely at advanced strands, such as education and social care. The Committee asks the Cabinet Member to review the policy.
4.11 RESOLVED: That further developments in terms of the Gambling Policy be reported to the Committee.