BOURNEMOUTH Council has backed a campaign to give councils increased powers to decide where betting shops should open and how many there should be.

The town has reached “saturation point” with eight betting shops between the Triangle and the Lansdowne according to Cllr Bob Chapman.

Councillors were urged to support a campaign led by the London Borough of Hackney, which calls on the government to create a specific planning category for betting shops.

Betting shops are currently in the same use category as office-based businesses including building societies and estate agents. “This means that these premises can be converted into betting shops without any need to apply for planning permission.

Bournemouth council has voted overwhelmingly in favour of supporting the move to create a separate class for betting shops at the full council meeting on Tuesday with only two councillors voting against the proposals.

Cllr David Smith who presented the motion said: “We want an increased sense of control over our high streets.

“There is an increased clustering of betting shops on the high street and judging by the experience of other authorities, this could become a massive problem and needs to be addressed as soon as possible.”

The proposals were seconded by Cllr Chapman who opposed the opening of the Betfred in the former Santander bank premises on Old Christchurch Road.

He said: “It’s ridiculous having the same class order for a betting shop as we have for a bank.”

Cllr Anne Rey who is a member of the licensing committee objected to proposals saying there was no clear link between betting shops and increased anti-social behaviour.

She said: “I would like to see some evidence of an increase in anti-social behaviour in areas where there is a betting shop. I would rather see a betting shop than an empty shop.”