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Dartford Labour Party recognises the prevalence of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) in betting shops, often referred to in the media as “the crack cocaine of gambling”. We believe that these machines are highly addictive, and that people's lives have been devastated as a result of their use - specifically, the ability of users to stake a maximum of £100 a spin, every 20 seconds.

Research and testimony, together with the experience of Labour Councillors and community activists in Dartford, has highlighted the damaging impacts that FOBTs have had on individuals. This has included building up ruinous levels of personal debt to fund addiction to FOBTs, depression and the breakdown of family relationships.

We strongly believe that the government should bring forward several changes to the law to significantly reduce the harm FOBTs can do to our community. Specifically;

The maximum stake on FOBTs (B2 gaming machines) should be reduced from the current £100 to a stake of £2 to bring it in line with other gaming machines. Evidence from the Campaign for Fairer Gambling and other organisations involved in the prevention of problem gambling indicates that a reduction to £2 is the change that would have the most impact in the prevention of harmful use of these machines. As such, we believe any smaller reduction should be discounted and there is no evidence to support that potential maximum stake of £50 would be safe.

We support a reduction of the maximum stake for B2 machines of £2 and therefore do not support an increase in any other machines (primarily B3) stake going beyond £2.

We are concerned that the use of debit cards as a form of payment on FOBTs has led to an increase to the amount of money staked and consequently completely reject any proposal for contactless payments to be available as part of any gambling product.

We believe that additional powers should be granted to local authorities to protect the wellbeing of their communities by stopping the proliferation and impact of betting shops in District, Boroughs and Unitary Authority areas.

This would include changes to planning legislation to provide planning authorities ability to reject all applications to open betting shops (including change of use applications) if authorities feel that additional betting shops would make the prevalence too high.

Planning authorities should also have the ability to reject an application if they can evidence that proposed location of the new betting shop may encourage problematic gambling or mis-use.

Local authorities should be granted increased funding for public health in recognition that there is a complete lack of support for the issue of problem gambling compared to drugs or problem drinking.

We also have serious concerns about the staff who work in the shops with FOBT’s in them.  One third of the machines are smashed every year, meaning the call outs to betting shops by Police are far above the average to other high street shops and far more than those to other gambling premises such as bingo halls or casinos.  Most have only one member of staff in the store at any one time, in fact the numbers of all employees by betting shops has fallen significantly. We believe that the government should work in partnership the trade unions and the industry do ensure that employers adequately exercise a duty of care to betting shop staff to protect them from harassment and resources are redirected from the gambling to support staff who have suffered, or are at risk of suffering, increased levels of stress in the workplace,

We would welcome additional restrictions placed on the advertising of gambling, particularly online. The relationship between the gambling industry and professional sports is in need of review. We would welcome the government considering similar restrictions on the advertising of gambling at sports events and during sports coverage on television and online that are currently in place in respect of tobacco products.

Councillor Jonathon Hawkes, Leader of the Labour Group of Councillors on Dartford Borough Council. Submission made on behalf of Dartford Labour Party

Consultation on proposals for changes to Gaming Machines and Social Responsibility Measures – Submission from Dartford Labour Party

Dartford Labour Party recognises the prevalence of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) in betting shops, often referred to in the media as “the crack cocaine of gambling”. We believe that...

(Jeremy Corbyn standing up for renters at PMQs)

Renters in Dartford are currently powerless to ensure landlords fix problems like mould, damp and vermin. It means they’re living in accommodation that bad landlords aren’t keeping up to standard, with no laws to protect them.

That’s why on 19 January, Dartford Labour will be supporting Labour MPs in parliament who will vote for a new law to give power to renters, so they can take action if their homes aren’t up to scratch. Data from the English Housing Survey 2017 found that almost a third (29 per cent) of homes rented from private landlords fail to meet the national Decent Homes Standard; meaning they either contain safety hazards or do not have acceptable kitchen and bathroom facilities or adequate heating.  Labour’s new law would place a legal requirement on landlords to ensure properties they let are fit for human habitation.

Labour previously sought to introduce this change in 2015. On that occasion, the Conservatives, including Dartford MP Gareth Johnson, talked the bill out – showing the Tories are more interested in protecting bad landlords than supporting renters.

Leader of the Labour Group of Councillor on Dartford Council, Jonathon Hawkes said;

As a Councillor, I’ve spoken to too many people who live in substandard rented accommodation. I’ve seen people live in properties that suffer from cold or damp or have mould on the walls. It’s unacceptable in 2018 and currently, renters are powerless to ensure their landlords fix the problems.  That needs to change. Renters need protection and that’s why Labour is proposing a change in the law to ensure everyone has a legal right to live a safe and decent home.

I’m calling on Dartford MP Gareth Johnson to do the right thing and back our bill on 19 January to give renters in Dartford the protections they need and deserve.

Dartford Labour Support Campaign To Change The Law To Ensure All Homes in Dartford Are Fit For Human Habitation

(Jeremy Corbyn standing up for renters at PMQs) Renters in Dartford are currently powerless to ensure landlords fix problems like mould, damp and vermin. It means they’re living in accommodation...

Dartford Labour Party this morning joined protests up and down the country against the Tories Great Train Robbery, as commuters went back to work facing an 3.6% hike in fares, the highest rise in five years​.

Speaking to commuters outside Dartford station this morning, the message was clear – passengers are fed up with paying outrageous increases in fares, while services continue to be unreliable and promised investment has been cancelled. People in Dartford want to see a railway run for the many, not the few.

The price of a annual season ticket from Dartford to London including travel on the London Underground now costs over £3000.

Leader of the Labour Group on Dartford Council, Councillor Jonathon Hawkes said;

“The great Tory train robbery is making it more and more expensive for people in Dartford to get to work. Under the Tories, we have the most expensive fares in Europe –since the Tories came to power, fares have gone up 32% - twice as fast as wages. The government is failing to stand up for ordinary passengers in Dartford.

People want a railway that operates in the interests of the many, not the few. That’s why Labour will bring our railways back into public ownership which will lead to more reliable services, capped fares and more investment.”

The photo at the top of this page shows Councillors Jonathon Hawkes and Mark Maddison, together with Labour activists Claire Pearce and Joshua Grills outside Dartford station this morning.

Dartford Labour Join Protests Againt Conservative Great Train Robbery

Dartford Labour Party this morning joined protests up and down the country against the Tories Great Train Robbery, as commuters went back to work facing an 3.6% hike in fares,...

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