Published: 13:00, 14 July 2014
A mum hoping she is backing a winner by calling for a new bookmakers to close has been told she will need 1000 signatures to formally address the council.
A branch of Coral opened in Cranbrook High Street a few weeks ago and it is fair to say the going has not been good.
Charlie Tomlinson, of Waterloo Road, has attracted 315 signatures on her petition which slams the appearance of the shop and calls for it to shut down.
She said: “It is simply astounding how a ghastly betting shop managed to get a licence.
"Its garish blue facade is completely at odds with the rest of the High Street and not fitting with the pretty town.”
However, councillor for Cranbrook & Planning Committee, Linda Hall, responded to the petition on the website.
In her statement posted on Saturday July 12, she says: "Unfortunately, I (indeed no one) can help you via this mechanism of an online petition.
"Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, on the other hand, does have a system which you could make use of to make your outrage felt.
"You can bring a petition to Full Council and have it debated in full public view, with the press present as well to report on the issue and the arguments."
Mrs Tomlison has been told she will need 1000 hand-written signatures if she wants the council to discuss the issue formally.
Cllr Hall added: "Any number of the objectors can then come along and make a speech explaining the reasons for their signing of the petition.
"But and it is a big BUT, those that sign must be Cranbrook and borough residents, not from Woking or Staplehurst or England generally."
The councillor said the betting shop could have been much worse than it is, as original plans included the installation of an illuminated shop sign.
In a response to the Cllr made today [July 14], Mrs Tomlinson has outlined that the overall population of Cranbrook is approximately 5,000 meaning 25% would have to sign the petition.
She says: "A hand-written petition signed by 1,000 Cranbrook residents is a virtual impossibility.
"The council’s process for raising this issue (or any) seems designed to ensure that no concern residents in a small town or village have will ever be heard."
The mum of one's ‘Get rid of the Coral betting shop’ petition aims to close the bookies in Cranbrook High Street completely.
Traders and residents are unhappy with the shop on the site of the HSBC bank, and believe it detracts from the appearance of the street.
In her statement Cllr Hall added: "If people's objections are to the lurid corporate colours, then I cannot but agree with you, but the officers made the decision to allow it."
The petition went live on the Change.org site on Monday, June 30. It has so far gained over 300 supporters and a swathe of comments, but Mrs Tomlinson will now have to rally up more support in order to address the council formally.
Her statement on the website says: “It is simply astounding how a ghastly betting shop managed to get a licence.
“Its garish blue facade is completely at odds with the rest of the High Street and not fitting with the pretty town you would have thought the council is keen to protect.”
The declaration also claims the shop has increased the amount of underage drinking and gambling.
Charlie said: “It has always bothered me ever since it was opened a few weeks ago, and I thought I should do something about it.
“I started noticing a lot more young groups hanging around the store and heard a few complaints from other people I spoke to. Shop workers say the group of kids hanging around has doubled in size since the shop opened.
“It’s been quite interesting to see how many people feel the same.”
A message on the petition page from Emily Peirce says: “It is a complete eyesore and definitely not in keeping with our beautiful town.
Mrs Tomlinson made a plea to the council to look into the licensing and lease of the shop, but following the statement from Cllr Hall, will now have to re-address ideas of how to gain further support.
“I’ve been amazed by the amount of comments received, and have been taking note of all the complaints" - Charlie Tomlinson
After first starting the campaign, Charlie said: “I literally only told five people when I started the petition, and through the power of Facebook it completely took off.
“I’ve been amazed by the amount of comments received, and have been taking note of all the complaints.”
A spokesman for Tunbridge Wells Borough Council said: “The business has been licensed by the Gambling Commission. The council’s licensing committee would have no legal grounds to refuse the premises licence.”
Coral did not respond to requests for a statement.
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