Fears over new arcade in Highbridge

PUBLISHED: 09:00 01 July 2011

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AN amuseument arcade has been given the go-ahead despite concerns from residents and councillors.

A licensing and gambling panel has decided to grant the application to transform Highbridge Ink to an adult gaming centre.

The centre, to be called Casino Slots in Market Street in Highbridge, will feature large jackpot machines, free tea and coffee, Sky TV and a daily raffle prizes.

The application has been granted so long as it blacks out its windows, and all staff employed on the premises to be fully trained before they start.

Although the arcade has been given conditions to adhere to, it is not enough for some Highbridge residents.

Tina Gray, chairman of the Highbridge Residents’ Association describes the decision of the development of a new casino as ‘absolutely horrific’.

She said: “It is in one of the worst streets in Highbridge for antisocial behaviour with drugs and violence.

“Having a £500 jackpot is going to make some poor soul think that can win it.

“The fact that they will put £5,000 into the machines to win the jackpot doesn’t matter.

“With all the best intentions in the world, teenagers nowadays do look older, and you could easily let a 12-year-old and think that they are of age.

“We are a deprived area and there is no money and the casino opening will make a killing otherwise he would not have fought so hard.

“Families are going to end up with nothing.

“If you have a gambling habit then it doesn’t bare thinking about.

“The best way to describe the decision is absolutely horrific.”

Burnham on Sea and Highbridge Town Council was opposed to the centre.

Town clerk, Eileen Shaw said: “The town council objected to it on the grounds of protecting children and other vulnerable people from harm.

“Market Street had a high rate of antisocial behaviour and a high rate of alcohol incidents.

“We understand the police were concerned about smokers who will be unable to smoke on the premises.

“It could lead to more people hanging about adding to the antisocial behaviour issues.

“An additional gambling establishment with low employment and low income could lead to increasing crime because people need to fund a gambling habit.”

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