Neighbours and councillors take aim at plans for Caledonian Road gaming centre

Islington Town Hall. Photograph: Islington Citizen

Councillors, neighbours and the Town Hall’s licensing authority have all raised concerns over proposals for an adult gaming centre (AGC) on Caledonian Road.

The open-all-hours centre, an over-18s establishment providing high payouts on its machines, is to open on the former site of a William Hill, which locals say was already a problem area for the deprived community.

In a joint statement in response to the application by City Gaming Limited, which also operates Chapel Market’s Palace Amusements, Caledonian ward councillors made clear their opposition, warning of its potential for encouraging problem gambling.

Cllrs Paul Convery, Sara Hyde and Una O’Halloran said: “The premises at 310 Caledonian Road are located in an area containing five primary schools and a children’s centre within a radius of 500 metres of the site. The children’s centre is located 100 metres away as is the Jean Stokes Community Centre.” 

They added: “If this license were to be granted, one of Islington’s most deprived areas will feature a significant cluster of gambling/gaming premises (three within 150 metres of each other). It is logical to conclude the opportunities to gamble will be multiplied and the risk of problem gambling may be significantly increased. 

“This has knock‐on effects for health, particularly mental health, because problem gamblers are more likely to experience adverse financial, social and health impacts to themselves and their families due to increased debts, anxiety and other harms.”

Islington has the second highest density of gambling premises of any London borough, with the largest concentrations of such establishments correlating with areas of high deprivation.

Despite City Gaming proposing a list of conditions including CCTV, no alcohol on site, and ID to be enforced rigorously, the application for the AGC still bore a list of concerns from neighbours.

One, writing anonymously, said: “The Caledonian Road has long been a deprived area in Islington and in London and in the past we were aware of several regular customers of the William Hill who clearly had gambling addiction issues as compounded by substance abuse who were also parents of local school-aged children; there are several primary schools and public parks in the immediate vicinity. 

“These children often were made to loiter outside whilst their parents gambled inside of the William Hill, often for long stretches of time, and we watched in horror as parents spoke rudely and violently to their children who begged them to leave and take them home. If we tried to intervene we were sworn at and intimidated.”

They went on: “When William Hill closed the branch in the summer of 2020, we felt extremely hopeful that finally we would be able to live without fear and disruption and that the Caledonian Road would finally be given a chance to improve. 

“We have been made aware of the Cally Plan which we believe is being developed to regenerate the area and the rejection of this gambling licence seems to be one step towards this positive aim.”

The council’s own licensing authority has also submitted a representation against the application for the AGC, citing the lack of planning permission and potential negative impacts from gambling in deprived areas.

City Gaming Ltd could not be reached for comment.