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Southwark Labour slam Lib Dems for voting against action on high stake gambling machines


28 November 2014
Cllr Neil Coyle Southwark Labour councillors have slammed Lib Dems for refusing to support a campaign against Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs), known as the “crack cocaine of gambling”, despite more than £18 million being lost on the machines in Southwark last year.
 
Southwark Labour has joined councils across the country to force Government to cut the amount of money that can be gambled on controversial high stakes gambling machines. 93 local authorties, led by Newham Council, have joined forces to submit a proposal under the Sustainable Communities Act, calling on the Government to reduce the maximum stake to £2 per spin, which would bring FOBTs into line with
other gambling machines.

Southwark Labour councillors put forward a motion to full council this week to support Newham’s proposal, but Lib Dem councillors voted against it. Lib Dem councillors instead proposed an amendment to the Labour motion, removing support for the campaign and praising betting shops for taking steps to limit the amount that can be spent on FOBTs, even though this move has been described by critics as “a halfhearted attempt that proves they are not serious about tackling problem gambling.”

Labour councillors have hit out at the Lib Dems’ refusal to support the campaign to restrict the growth of these machines, which has cross-party support from more than a quarter of all councils across the country.

Cllr Neil Coyle, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, put forward the motion to support the FOBTs campaign at Council Assembly. Cllr Coyle said:
 
“It is very disappointing to see the Lib Dems in Southwark refusing to support this campaign to restrict these addictive, high stakes gambling machines, which are clustered in the most deprived areas and are causing real harm to communities in Southwark.

“Lib Dems have publicly backed campaigns to curbs these machines, but Lib Dem Government Minister and local MP Simon Hughes voted against Labour’s proposals to restrict the growth of FOBTs and now Lib Dem councillors are refusing to back this important campaign.
 
“Lib Dems in Southwark have proved they’re are on the side of gambling shops not residents and like their Government Ministers they are not prepared to take real action to curb the growth of these controversial machines. Southwark Council is playing our part in tackling this issue, but the Government needs to recognise the harmful effects of these gambling machines and give councils the powers they need to tackle this growing problem.” 


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