MP defends stance over bookies’ bid

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The MP for Boston has defended his support for plans to open a fourth bookmakers in Boston’s Market Place following criticism on social media.

Matt Warman came under fire online after he spoke in favour of William Hill’s application for a premises licence at the former Serenity Hair Designs unit.

He said: “Any new shop opening in Boston is to be welcomed and the fact that a major brand such as William Hill is keen to expand in this area demonstrates yet more evidence of how the effects of Britain’s growing economy are being felt in Lincolnshire.

“I know William Hill will be keen to play a part in the life of the town and will do all it can to encourage those who gamble to do so responsibly.”

A number of people criticised Mr Warman for his statement on the Standard’s Facebook page, arguing that the town needed more diversity in the Market Place.

In response, he told The Standard: “I believe that any investment into Boston’s town centre should be welcomed, as it boosts our local economy. Rather than sitting empty, a new shop will pay businesses rates and employ local people, which is always positive news.

“While the final decision on this particular shop’s application is a matter for Boston Borough Council, I think that diversity on our high street is the ultimate goal.”

The council has also moved to defend the town in terms of its diversity.

Coun Paul Skinner, the council’s town centre portfolio holder, said: “The council itself cannot, of course, make decisions on what stores or investors actually decide to come into the centre – this is very much governed by market forces and rental levels.

“However, we do already have variety – from bargains on the stalls on the various market days through to small independent traders dotted across town, particularly along the feeder lanes, through to multiples and higher-end retailers such as Oldrids, Cammacks, M&S, plus out of town retail park and Pescod Square.”

Coun Skinner said the council’s role was to ‘make the town as attractive and as welcoming as possible’ and pointed to a number of initiatives including Boston in Bloom and shop front restoration and repair grants.

William Hill has previously said such applications are ‘often the result of extensive market research’ and added opening a new premises would result in the creation of five new jobs.