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Bookies in St Aldate's 'might lower the tone'
IT IS one of Oxford’s most historic streets; home to Christ Church and the Town Hall.
But concerns have been raised that St Aldate’s could soon be home to its first bookmakers.
Ladbrokes has applied for a premises licence to trade from The Last Bookshop’s unit in St Aldate’s, opposite the town hall, giving it three central branches.
The news has sparked concern the bookies would lower the tone of the historic street.
Last Bookshop director Jake Pumphrey, who plans to move to another street, said the shop would be sold to Ladbrokes if council permission was given.
He said: “It seems like an odd spot for a betting shop. It’s in the cultured centre and we trade on that in Oxford, “It might look a bit out of place. It might lower the tone.”
He said the shop was in negotiations to take over the former Culpepper shop in New Inn Hall Street, which it would move to regardless.
Mr Pumphrey – who also runs branches in Salisbury and Bristol – said: “It is disappointing to come to an end. We like selling books in Oxford, it was a good spot.
“We remain committed to selling books in Oxford.”
Referring to Ladbrokes, Dan Distain, who has served customers at the shop for almost two years, said: “I think it is a fairly typical choice for a city centre now. They are becoming, one could argue, bland.”
But Ladbrokes spokesman Richard Royal said empty offices upstairs would be refurbished for other firms.
He said: “In this way, our shop contributes to the economic viability of the area in addition to increasing footfall for neighbouring businesses, providing new jobs and generating investment through repair, renovation and improvements.”
Graham Jones, spokesman for the Rox city centre traders’ association, said: “It would be a shame to lose it, it is part of the scene.
“It is a more natural type of shop for St Aldate’s than a betting shop because of the nature of the visitors.”
Carfax city ward councillor Tony Brett said the news was regrettable, adding: “Books are generally good for people, they learn stuff from books, but gambling is generally bad for people. It wastes money and can be addictive.”
And Gill Tishler, director of the Citizens’ Advice Bureau in St Aldate’s, said: “We’d be concerned about inappropriate levels of access to something which could lead people into financial difficulties.”
Marc Winston, owner of nearby Oxford Tattoo, said: “It might change the character of the area.”
Jo Watkins, owner of Dart It & Stitch haberdashery in nearby Blue Boar Street, said: “It is always a shame to lose a small business.”
City centre betting shops are Ladbrokes in Cornmarket and Threeway House, William Hill at New Inn Hall Street, Betfred in Cornmarket and Stan James Bookmakers in Park End Street.
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