Ed Miliband, leader of the U.K.’s opposition Labour Party, said local authorities should have the power to ban types of shops including bookmakers and loan companies.
In a speech marking the start of his party’s campaign for local elections on May 2, Miliband said a Labour government would ensure “local people can have a say about which type of shops they want to see and which they don’t.”
While Miliband focused on “payday loan” companies, which charge high rates of interest for check-cashing and short-term lending, a Labour policy document cited bookmakers as another target. William Hill Plc operates more than 2,300 betting shops in Britain, and Ladbrokes Plc has more than 2,000.
“Everyone here today knows how important our high streets are to towns and cities across Britain,” Miliband told supporters in Ipswich, eastern England. “They’re not just the places we go to shop. They’re the heart of our local communities. But today our high streets are changing –- and often not for the better.”
More than 2,300 council seats are being contested in England and Wales. The last time the same seats were elected, in 2009, Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives gained 285, while Labour lost 327. Labour was then in government, and the Conservatives were ahead in national polls. This time, the Conservatives are in power and Labour leads in the polls.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg launched his Liberal Democrat Party’s campaign by attacking both Labour and his Conservative coalition partners for wasteful spending in local government. He said one Tory council leader had spent 210,000 pounds ($320,000) on a chauffeur.
“Wherever we can, Liberal Democrats are spreading the burden fairly, investing in ways that enable everyone to get on in life, not just the well off,” he said.