It’s not just chosen few who should get a say on high streets


by Heidi Saarinen, of the Lordship N22 Campaign Group – @LordshipN22Camp ‬

‘As a community, we must remember that the responsibility of the future of our communities, our place here and now and more long term, is really with us’.

Having been involved in the local Lordship N22 Campaign to stop Paddy Power taking over the former Lordship pub in Lordship Lane, Wood Green, I want to look back and reflect.

distance lordship

The Lordship (picture from Heidi Saarinen)

When the community first heard that the former Lordship Pub, located on a major corner landmark site, was threatened to become a Paddy Power betting shop, I remember immediately thinking ‘NO!’ ‘Something has to be done here’. There are already two betting shops nearby, in the same stretch of road and several, within minutes in all directions. A discussion soon took off on the local networks and more and more people got involved, commented and contributed with information, expertise, links to relevant sources and generally coming together, for the sake of the neighbourhood, community and our local amenities. The message we’ve heard from the majority of people has always been along the lines of:

– No! Surely not another betting shop!
– Why?
– Why here?
– They can’t allow that!?
– When did this happen?
– How come I didn’t know!?
– What can we do to help?!

This was the voice of the resident, neighbour and passer-by in the beginning of the campaign, sometime in March 2014. We are still hearing the very same comments, from all those people who haven’t yet read the signs plastered in the windows of The Lordship, read the local papers or somehow simply been too busy to realise what is going on.

This is the problem; the difficulty in getting the word out to everyone, in time, before decisions guided by strict regulatory deadlines, are made, before people can voice their concerns and objections. Not everyone is used to the system, and for many it is difficult to know what one should say in a letter of objection, for example.

This is an issue that needs to be addressed and local people must get involved in the debate and know that everyone is entitled to object, have a voice, send a letter or email and get actively involved in community issues. It is not just for the chosen few or the loudest or the most informed, it is for you, us and everyone. So, as a community, we must remember that the responsibility of the future of our communities, our place here and now and more long term, is really with us. It is a myth to believe or trust, that the local authority has the ability, power or resources to help or successfully change policy. So we need to be proactive and support the difficult process that in our case is Licensing and relevant Planning aspects such as use of classes.

Should we all just be quiet about the places where we live?

Should we all just be quiet about the places where we live?

The law does not generally favour the community in this case, although various acts have been put in place to support the community and encourage involvement in decision making from local people and organisations, such as The Sustainable Communities Act.

We should never entirely rely on secondary sources to work on our behalf. We, as an individual and group of residents need to take a stance on the situation in question, in this instance the Lordship N22 Campaign, and act, do our bit, be heard, show our presence and know the legal obstacles. This way we have a better chance of success, so join us. It is also a great opportunity to make new friends, share news and be mindful of the resources we already have, a strong vibrant community, with expertise and knowledge in many much needed community matters.

With a local pub being turned into a betting shop, there is, within the current legislation no real obstacle for betting giants such as Paddy Power to set up shop, as practically there is little in the law that supports the community, based on the Gambling Act 2005 which in fact appears to encourage the influx of betting shops by its Section 153 Principles to be Applied/Aim to Permit. Link.

According to the law, it seems residents can do little to combat these giants coming into our communities, just ‘because they can’. For those not familiar with this in detail, and I know that is most of us until it hits us on home turf, as it did me and my neighbours, it will happen to you at some point soon, if it hasn’t already. It will happen again and again, until you ‘get used to it’, as eventually you will stop noticing as it becomes so acceptable. That is a scary thought, right? With betting shops becoming so everyday in our high streets, will our eyes automatically adjust to the heavily branded signs, shop front advertising and non-transparent windows and environments?

It is important to remember that the influx of betting shops has been happening for quite some time; initially slowly, quietly, no one really noticed, then boom: they’re everywhere. We cannot allow this destruction and must make it our priority to carry on protecting our communities, architecture and urban landscapes.


One Response to It’s not just chosen few who should get a say on high streets

  1. It seems to me that one really important point to come out of this is how should we decide what our communities look like?

    Right now it’s the richest and the most powerful who dictate what our areas are like – and their power to do so is increasing. If we don’t pose an alternative then it will simply be the company with the most clout who moves in, and why would they have any regard for the communities they make money out of?

    It’s time for a serious discussion about what we want from our streets/arcades/estates and how are we going to make that happen?