Council’s gamble over controversial deal with bookies

Councillor David Ritchie
Councillor David Ritchie

Cash-strapped East Dunbartonshire Council has agreed to underwrite any loss of profits made by a bookmakers in a controversial property deal.

The council currently lease out a building to Betfred in Lennoxtown, which they want to use to make way for a new £5million community hub.

A deal has been signed, which will see the council forking out around £140,000 to refurbish new premises for Betfred in a former housing office just across the road from the current bookies shop.

Betfred will only be charged £1 per year for the first five years to lease out the building. And the council

will also underwrite any loss of profit the bookies encounter during the first five years of the lease.

The council will be allowed to monitor the Betfred accounts and the bookies is obliged to mitigate any losses associated with their relocation.

The move has been slammed by the council’s SNP group.

Campsie and Kirkintilloch North SNP councillor David Ritchie said: “What planet do the council administration live on if they think that it’s a great idea to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds of council taxpayers hard earned money in a deal with a local bookies that basically just relocates them to the other side of the street?

“My SNP colleagues and I have strongly opposed this deal right from the beginning.

“It was only a few months ago that Lennoxtown Primary School was one of the schools on the administration councillors’ hit list and was under threat of closure.”

However, council leader Rhondda Geekie hit back: “Councillor Ritchie is being extremely disingenuous if he believes that the complex arrangements to pull together a site of this nature, that will deliver customer services and health care facilities in the centre of Lennoxtown, would not require arrangements to compensate the current site owners and occupiers.

“The commercial arrangements we have put together with Betfred and other land owners has sought to avoid the need for potential use of compulsory purchase orders, which would have taken considerably longer to implement, delaying major investment in the village, and been potentially more expensive in terms of compensation arrangements.”

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