Campaigners have lost their battle against plans to relocate a betting shop in the entrance to Morley’s historic market.
Councillors and residents had initially tried to halt the move by Ladbrokes on planning grounds, claiming it would have a detrimental impact on the future of the market.
Leeds City Council’s plans panel agreed that the development may harm the market and turned down the plans at the end of last year.
But Ladbrokes appealed the decision with the Planning Inspectorate – and won.
On Monday, protestors made a last attempt to foil Ladbrokes’ plans by officially objecting to the company’s application for a betting licence for the new premises.
Led by city councillors Judith Elliott and Shirley Varley, they voiced fears that allowing a betting shop in a prime location would encourage gambling by people who could afford it least.
Coun Elliott said: “For Ladbrokes to have such a prominent position in the town will be sending out a poor message to vulnerable school age children that this is an acceptable way of using hard-earned money to fill the pockets of bookies.
“We also have homes for the elderly. Having a betting shop at the entrance to the market will have a bad effect on them – encouraging spending of pensions on gambling instead of on wellbeing.”
But the campaigners’ pleas were ultimately rejected when the council heard that the company had been operating in Queen Street – on the same road as the market – for more than two decades without incident.
Ladbrokes has defended the scheme saying it was only a relocation of an existing shop and that Ladbrokes was a responsible company with strict policies to protect the young and vulnerable.
Coun Elliott said after the meeting: “All in all it is disappointing outcome. To seek to allow a gambling establishment in such a prime position shows how commercial gain can be put above the heritage of Morley.
“So far as those of us who have been against this proposal – which is most of the shoppers to whom I have spoken – are concerned, it stinks.”