Residents dismay as another betting shop opens in North End

Coral has opened a new bookmakers in London Road, North End
Coral has opened a new bookmakers in London Road, North End

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A BOOKMAKERS opening up in a shopping precinct has been criticised by residents who say the area is already overrun with similar firms.

Coral moved into the unit which was previously a McDonald’s in London Road, North End – making it the fourth betting shop along the precinct.

The move prompted outcry from residents, who say the once-busy shopping street has been overrun with charity shops and bookies.

However, Simon Clare, from Coral, said the company was pleased to have brought fresh life into the unit, which had been empty and boarded up since McDonald’s left in January 2015.

He said: ‘The high street has changed. Bookies couldn’t afford to be on the main high street 10 years ago, they used to be hidden around the corner or tucked away in estates, but because the high street is in decline, the bookies now have more prominence and they are in a better position.’

Mr Clare said that laws which used to restrict how close bookmakers could be to one another were scrapped, allowing betting shops to open next to one another – meaning competition but bringing better rates for customers.

Mr Clare said the new shop was ‘bright, fresh and modern’ and had brought employment. However, some local residents and shoppers are unimpressed.

Sandra Cole, from North End, said: ‘We don’t need another betting shop. North End is going to be like a ghost town soon. There are no big shops any more. It’s all second-hand shops and betting shops. You can’t do proper shopping any more.’

Tracy Martin, from Fratton, agreed. She said: ‘You’ve got William Hill, Ladbrokes and Betfred all very close.’

Tony Cole, from Drayton, said: ‘It’s gone downhill for years. I don’t come here very often any more. There’s not the variety there once was. It’s mostly bookies or charity shops. I remember years ago when it was thriving and there was an M&S.’

McDonald’s closed after changes were made to the road, meaning cars could not park – a decision that has since been reversed.

Other names to pull out from the street include KFC, British Heart Foundation, and the Co-op – a large building which is still empty.