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 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,...
Kent Labour Groups Oppose Changes To Domestic Abuse Refuge Funding
Two years after the government made coercive or controlling behaviour a criminal offence, over 50 members of the Labour Party in Kent have signed an open letter calling on the government to reverse their planned housing benefit cap for domestic violence refuges.
Currently, Housing Benefit makes up around 50% of the revenue refuges rely on. The letter notes that “If Housing Benefit entitlement is removed for those in refuges, it will mean vulnerable women fleeing abusive partners will not be able to pay for their accommodation using housing benefit – the last guaranteed source of income available to refuges.”
In October 2017, a document was published by the Department of Work and Pensions and Department for Communities and Local Government, ‘Funding Supporting Housing’. Proposals contained in this document state that instead of being able to use housing benefit to fund refuges, a ‘ring-fenced’ grant to councils for short-term supported housing would be given. However, the majority of women (77.6% in 2015) in refuges come from outside the authority, having left their original home in order to escape the perpetrator.
If these reforms proceed, Labour is concerned that this will result in a postcode lottery of domestic abuse support services, with further refuge closures who provide such an invaluable service, and more women and children being turned away from the lifesaving support they offer when escaping domestic abuse and violence.
The letter was signed Councillor Jonathan Hawkes, Leader of the Labour Group in Dartford alongside Labour leaders in Canturbury, Thanet and Medway. Elected Labour representatives from North Thanet, South Thanet, Maidstone & Weald, Faversham & Swale, Rochester & Strood, Gillingham & Rainham, Chatham & Aylesford, Dover & Deal have also made a stand.
Jonathan said: 'The proposal to remove Housing Benefit entitlement for those in domestic violence refuges is unacceptable and needs to be halted. The Tory government are showing a lack of understanding of the importance of domestic violence services – these cuts will have a huge effect on the safety of women and children across Kent. Access to refuges has meant the difference between life and death for women escaping violence at home. That’s why Labour across Kent has united to sign this letter - it’s vital that the Tory government start listening and reverse these cuts.'
Councillor Daisy Page who also signed the letter said:
'As a Councillor, having worked with women and children escaping domestic violence and abuse, seeing how much refuges and our local refuge is relied upon I know the devastation this will cause. It’s time Government listened to the people on the ground and abandoned its plans to remove refuges from support term housing welfare. This Government should be working to find a long-term and sustainable funding solution for refuges across the country, an invaluable service for so many, instead of removing funding.'
The letter asks that the government “reconsiders and abandons its plans to remove refuges and other forms of short-term supported housing from the welfare system.”
You can sign the petition here: https://www.change.org/p/gov-don-t-remove-refuges-from-the-welfare-system
The full text of the letter is available below:
We, the Women’s officers and Cllrs of the Constituency Labour Parties of Kent, are writing to draw attention to our very significant concerns about the Government’s plans to remove refuges and other forms of short-term supported housing from the welfare system. We feel this proposal will further endanger the safety and lives of women and children seeking to escape domestic abuse.
Currently, Housing Benefit makes up around 50% of the revenue refuges rely on. If Housing Benefit entitlement is removed for those in refuges, it will mean vulnerable women fleeing abusive partners will not be able to pay for their accommodation using housing benefit - the last guaranteed source of income available to refuges.
In October 2017, a document was published by the Department of Work and Pensions and Department for Communities and Local Government, ‘Funding Supporting Housing’. Proposals contained in this document state that instead of being able to use housing benefit to fund refuges, a ‘ring-fenced’ grant to councils for short-term supported housing would be given.
However, the majority of women (77.6% in 2015) in refuges come from outside the authority, having left their original home in order to escape the perpetrator. If these reforms proceed, we are concerned that this will result in a postcode lottery of domestic abuse support services, with further refuge closures who provide such an invaluable service, and more women and children being turned away from the lifesaving support they offer when escaping domestic abuse and violence.
It takes incredible courage for a person to leave an abusive relationship. Two women continue to be killed by a partner or ex-partner every week in the UK. Research by Women’s Aid found 94 women with 90 children were turned away from refuge services in just one day in 2016, meaning there is an absolute demand for this service.
We ask that the Government reconsiders and abandons its plans to remove refuges and other forms of short-term supported housing from the welfare system. This Government should be working to find a long-term and sustainable funding solution for refuges across the country, who provide an invaluable service for so many women and children in need.
Lily Madigan Women's Officer, Rochester and Strood CLP
Pauline Farrance Women's Officer, North Thanet CLP
Jennifer Hamilton Women's and Equalities Officer, Faversham and Swale CLP
Lia Mandaracas Women's Officer, Gillingham and Rainham CLP
Jennifer Hamilton Women and Equalities Officer, Faversham and Mid Kent CLP
Cllr Claire Pearce Stone Parish Council, Women’s Officer, Dartford CLP
Cllr Vince Maple, Leader of the Labour Group on Medway Council
Cllr Alan Baldock, Leader of the Labour Group on Canterbury City Council
Cllr Jonathan Hawkes, Leader of the Labour Group on Dartford Borough Council
Cllr Josh Jones, Dartford Borough Council
Cllr Daisy Page, Dartford Borough Council
Cllr Tom Maddison, Dartford Borough Council
Cllr Mark Maddison, Dartford Borough Council
Cllr Patrick Kelly, Dartford Borough Council
Cllr Mandy Garford, Stone Parish Council
Cllr Emma Morley, Stone Parish Council
Cllr Pam Brivio, Dover District Council
Cllr Lenny Rolles, Gravesham Borough Council
Cllr Shane Mochrie-Cox, Gravesham Borough Council
Cllr Karen Constantine, Thanet District Council, Kent County Council
Cllr Jenny Matterface, Thanet District Council
Cllr Iris Johnson, Thanet District Council
Cllr Michell Fenner, Thanet District Council
Cllr. Peter Campbell, Thanet District Council
Cllr Ian Venables, Thanet District Council
Cllr Derek Boyle, Paddock Wood Town Council
Cllr Naushabah Khan, Medway Council
Cllr Andy Stamp, Medway Council
Cllr Tristan Osborne, Medway Council
Kent Labour Groups Oppose Changes To Domestic Abuse Refuge Funding Two years after the government made coercive or controlling behaviour a criminal offence, over 50 members of the Labour Party...
This morning the Prime Minster promised to set her vision for the country. This afternoon, what we actually got were a series of inadequate and watered down proposals, lacking substance.
On our housing crisis, the announcement of a £2bn ‘pot’ of funding for new council homes actually amounts to only 5,000 new council homes a year. That’s about 15 per council. For Dartford, where there are 1,000 people on the waiting list and young spending record levels of their income on housing in private sector, these proposals fall woefully short. Labour will introduce controls on escalating rents, provide longer tenancies and build a million genuinely affordable homes
On the NHS we heard warm words but no action. Healthcare services in Dartford are facing a £16 million pound shortfall this year alone and this forecast to grow. Labour will ensure our services receive a fair funding settlement.
On the growing pressure on household budgets the Tories once again come up short. Labour will give the country a pay rise by raising the minimum wage to £10 and scrap the public sector pay cap. Theresa May right praised our public servants, but it is Labour that values them and it is Labour that will act to protect the services they provide.
On education, the Prime Minister says that she has listened and will freeze fees, but it was the Tories the trebled them to £9000, pricing out many young people from University. On Sure Start and the growing funding crisis in our schools we heard nothing. Labour will scrap tuition fees; reverse the damaging cuts to our schools and Sure Start (which have seen a third closed under the Tories).
The overwhelming view of Dartford residents will be that this disastrous speech was a metaphor for this government – tired, dysfunctional and broken. It’s time Theresa May and the Conservative government made way. Labour are ready and waiting to provide the leadership this country needs. It’s time for Theresa May to make way for a Government that will act in the interest of the many and not the few.
Cllr Jonathon Hawkes - Leader, Dartford Labour Group
Cllr Josh Jones - Deputy Leader, Dartford Labour Group
This morning the Prime Minster promised to set her vision for the country. This afternoon, what we actually got were a series of inadequate and watered down proposals, lacking substance....