Yes to Dove’s gambling bid

DESPITE vociferous public objections, a gambling licence has been granted to provide an adult gaming centre at The Dove in Sidmouth.

DESPITE vociferous public objections, a gambling licence has been granted to provide an adult gaming centre at The Dove in Sidmouth.

Rises in crime, underage gambling and loss of tourism were among the worries aired by angry residents and business owners close to the former pub.

Decision makers spent three hours hearing concerns that, as well as being out of keeping with Sidmouth's Regency image, the centre would attract under 18s, vulnerable people, lead to criminal activity and create more noise in Dove Lane. [See page six for more objectors' comments].

Applicant George Symonds, who runs a similar centre in Lyme Regis, wants four gaming machines offering up to £500 in prize money and up to 40 other machines giving lower payouts.

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The centre will open from 9am to 10pm Monday to Saturday and from 9am to 6pm Sundays and bank holidays. No alcohol will be allowed on the premises.

One or two staff would man the premises, check machines, deter those under 18, offer change and sell household goods from window displays blocking a view into the centre. CCTV will be installed.

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The decision was made at East Devon District Council's Licensing and Enforcement sub-committee, chaired by Councillor Christine Drew, on Monday.

Anthony Barlow, of Peak House, who once ran a small arcade with six machines at the former Marlborough, told the committee: "We kept it open 18 months. We religiously kept a strong hand on it but it was impossible and after having so much damage we put CCTV in.

"Someone came in with a newspaper in front of their face and smashed it. As a result we shut the place down."

Concerned at losing tourists, Garland Pickard said: "Sidmouth has many excellent hotels and businesses. If this application is allowed it will be the first step in a downward spiral."

He urged the sub-committee to refuse the application, saying any appeal costs would be considerably less than the £250,000 EDDC has set aside for a judicial review over possible unitary authority changes.

After the decision Mrs Drew said: "We considered very carefully all of the points made by the Sidmouth objectors, but found there is no reason in law to refuse this application."

While accepting the decision would be controversial, she believed the conditions imposed on the applicant should allay objectors' fears.

Conditions imposed include a minimum of one staff in public areas and a qualified doorman, registered with the Security Industry Authority, to be present at all times.

The outer doors will automatically close and the premises will be configured to prevent people seeing inside.

Window displays blocking direct vision into the premises must not advertise gambling.

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