A moral stand or just ‘moral posturing’?

It’s time for Hastings Borough Council (HBC) to review its gambling policy and members of the council’s cabinet discussed the issues concerned when they met on Monday night.

Mike Hepworth, HBC’s Assistant Director Environment and Place told the meeting: “There is a statutory requirement for local authorities to fully review their Gambling Act Statement of Principles at least every three years… The revised statement needs to be adopted by the Council prior to publication on January 3rd 2019.”

Under the Gambling Act councils have the power to pass a ‘No Casino’ resolution and HBC did this when it last reviewed its statement of principles in 2016. Mr Hepworth pointed out this resolution needed to be revisited at the same time as the adoption of the policy.A ‘no casino resolution’ is exactly what it says and is a statement by a council to say it would not allow a casino within its area of jurisdiction.

At the meeting of its cabinet on Monday night a no casino clause was supported by Labour councillors while Conservative councillors voted to have a casino clause included.

Peter pic I like
Peter Chowney

Peter Chowney, who is leader of HBC and also Labour’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Hastings & Rye said: “Tracey Crouch MP made headlines after last week’s budget when she resigned on principle from her Ministerial post over fixed-odds betting legislation to reduce the maximum stake from £100 to £2. 

“I supported her decision, the Labour Party nationally supported it, Amber Rudd MP also made clear her support. Yet on Monday night, the Conservative councillors on HBC showed just how out of touch they were with our local community.

“Anecdotal evidence has revealed that nationally, two people a day are dying from gambling related suicides. The Chancellor could make £1.6billion revenue during the delay of six months before the legislation that Tracey Crouch brought to Parliament is introduced.  There are no principles in putting gambling and revenue before peoples’ lives. That is why in Hastings we have consistently refused to allow a Casino to be licensed and if we are in control of the Council, we will continue this policy. “

However Rob Lee, leader of the Conservative group on HBC dismissed Mr Chowney’s comments as “moral posturing”.

“We are not in a designated casino area and nor are we likely to be. However, a well managed casino would be an asset to the town, providing employment opportunities to local people and a source of income for the Council.”

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