Derry Council did not take kindly to an appeal court recently overturning their attempts to block Oasis from opening an amusement arcade. So much so that the councillors have now decided to rewrite the rules. But even that, it seems, could be a contravention of the law.
A new policy for granting amusement arcade permits has been created by the council in Derry, Northern Ireland after a previous decision made, as reported in Coinslot last week, was overturned.
Derry City and Strabane District Council has drafted the policy as a reaction to its refusal of Oasis Retail Services’ AGC permit being overturned in the court of appeal, with the judge remarking that “the council view seems to have been more that it did not consider more gaming premises were morally desirable”.
In a meeting, local councillors examined how they could prevent such an outcome from reoccurring, identifying the need for consistency and creating criteria in the hope that it would benefit future applications and decisions.
Indeed, the drafted new policy sets out five criteria for assessing the suitability of a location for a proposed amusement arcade, which are; impact on retail vitality and viability of Derry City and Strabane, the ‘cumulative build-up of amusement arcades in a particular location’, the ‘impact on the image and profile of Derry City and Strabane’, proximity to residential use, and the proximity to schools, youth centres and residential institutions.
While the majority of councillors believed that the new policy would be a “useful document” that would allow for “great consistency and decision making”, independent councillor Paul Gallagher said that he believed the new policy, and the criteria, ‘will not strengthen’ the council when it comes to issuing such decisions and that it needed to ‘tighten up the process’ through which such applications are made.
Gallagher added that the council would ‘run into trouble down the road’, and that any future business seeking to set up an amusement arcade in the council area could use the previous court judgement ‘against them’. He continued that the council had not carried out an in-depth study into issues such as the cumulative build-up of amusement arcades.
At the end of the meeting, the councillors agreed to approve the commencement of a public consultation exercise with key stakeholders on the draft Amusement Permit Policy.