‘Blight on the town’: Residents revolt against plan for gambling centre
Emily Gill, local democracy reporter
More than 200 objections and a 419-strong petition have been submitted to Monmouthshire council over plans for an adult gambling centre.
Residents have hit out over plans for an amusement arcade and gambling centre on Monnow Street, in Monmouth, but a gaming licence has been approved by the county council for the property formerly occupied by DS Music.
The application has been submitted by Barry Island Pleasure Park owner, Henry Danter, who has previously vowed to make the venture “a great success” and said it could help boost the town centre.
However, the council has received more than 200 objections to the planning application, with many raising concerns about the impact of gambling on young people and mental health.
One objection reads: “The addition of a gambling premise will be a blight on the town.
“It will encourage poor behaviour and enable those with gambling issues to have an easy outlet.”
Another says: “This is not good for the town, it is not Newport, and will cause major financial problems to people who are already struggling due to the pandemic.
“It could trigger mental health problems as they get in debt.”
Another described it as a “wholly inappropriate use of a prominent town centre building”.
Many raised concerns about the character of Monmouth town centre and the location of the building, which faces onto Agincourt Square.
The plans also face objections from the principal of Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools – James Murphy-O’Connor – and the head teacher of Monmouth Comprehensive School – Hugo Hutchison.
‘Major safeguarding threat’
Mr Murphy-O’Connor and Mr Hutchison submitted a joint objection, which reads: “We feel very strongly that an adult gaming centre would represent a major safeguarding threat and would have a negative impact on our pupils wellbeing.
“We would not like slot-machine gambling to be normalised and highly visible in our High Street, just as we are encouraging more pupils to walk or cycle to school as part of our sustainability objectives which we have been discussing in tandem with Monmouthshire County Council.
“Many of our parent body has raised similar concerns on behalf of their children and would like to add their weight to reject this planning application.
“We do not want to see any potential increase in gambling issues locally amongst young people who are particularly susceptible and impressionable.”
The petition, which has 419 signatures raises similar concerns to the formal objections.
It says an adult gaming centre “has the potential to be harmful to what Monmouth is and how Monmouth delivers for its people”.
It reads: “Our concern is that not only could an adult gaming centre severely damage Monmouth as a tourist or shopping and eating destination but it could seriously damage the fabric of the Monmouth community.”
However, some people have submitted comments to the council in support of the application.
One said it would be using the empty building and “adults should have the choice to use this service or not”.
Another described at as “something fun” for the town, which is “desperately needs for young adults”.
Mr Danter, who has been operating amusement arcades since 1960, has previously said the gaming centre would be “well run” and that nobody under 21 would be allowed entry.
The planning application is yet to be decided by the council.