Redbridge Council wants to strip second pub of fruit machines over underage gambling

New refurbished pub The Railway Bell, in George lane, South Woodford.

New refurbished pub The Railway Bell, in George lane, South Woodford. - Credit: Archant

Redbridge Council became the first local authority in the UK to strip a pub of its gambling permit earlier this week – and it is already weighing up plans to remove fruit machines from a second.

After a licensing sub-committee meeting decided to strip The George Public House in Wanstead of its gambling permit on Tuesday, Redbridge Council has now published papers for another committee meeting on November 29 that reveal it wants to do the same to The Railway Bell in George Lane, South Woodford.

The council revoked the George's gambling permit, but each pub in the UK is automatically entitled to two machines without needing one, so the JD Wetherspoon pub will keep two of its machines.

Such a move is likely at the Railway Bell too, which is run by Greene King.

The council is seeking to remove the fruit machines because the Railway Bell failed two test purchase operations in January and June this year, when children supervised by police officers were able to enter the pub and play on the over-18 machines unchallenged.

In a statement responding to the council's application to revoke their gambling permit, a solicitor on behalf of Greene King wrote: "The company takes the issue of the failed test purchases very seriously.

"The premises have operated for many years and gaming machines have been provided at the premises for a substantial period of time.

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"There have been no other issues concerning the provision of gaming machines or gambling facilities and no criticism of the way in which the premises have operated in accordance with the existing gambling entitlements or licensed premises gaming machine permit."

Speaking after Redbridge Council had delivered its verdict on The George's gambling permit, Sue Harper, the council's corporate director for place, said: "Businesses with permits to operate betting machines have a legal obligation to protect children and other vulnerable people from being harmed or exploited by gambling.

"At Redbridge, we put the welfare of our children at the heart of everything we do and won't be afraid to use the full weight of the law against businesses in the borough that fail in their legal obligations to safeguard young people."

The licensing sub-committee meeting is due to take place at Redbridge Town Hall in Ilford High Road at 10.30am on Friday, November 29.