AGCs facing uphill battle to stake new ground

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The sizzling temperatures may well be placing common-sense at risk, as two attempts to get AGCs off-the-ground encounter vocal dissent from local authorities and business spokesmen.

The leisure industry’s fight for the hearts and minds of the British local politician is seemingly far from over this summer, with proposals for new gaming arcades in Colchester and Gloucestershire both generating hysteria amongst council bureaucrats.

Scott Masterson of Masterson Leisure – the outfit behind Sailor Boy Amusements in St. Osyth – is the man behind plans for the new Essex locale. Along with his industry-veteran father John and wife Nicola, the family-owned operation would be located bang in the middle of Colchester’s town centre, and would represent just one of three gaming facilities as yet on hand for the town’s 120,000 residents.

Nevertheless, as the company awaits all requisite approvals from Colchester Council, local business heads have been quick to try and bury the knife in the nascent venture.

“We would encourage any business wanting to start up in Colchester,” maintained David Burch of the Essex Chambers of Commerce, before adding: “but [we] would question whether this sort of business is the right thing to be in the town centre.”

In an outrageously condescending and quite extraordinary addendum to his statement, Burch stated:“Whilst we are not denigrating people who use such operations, there could be potential for anti-social behaviour to develop if you have got those types of people around such areas.”

Did he really say that? Yes he did and it begs the question: to whom exactly is Mr Burch referring as “those people”?

The plans remain under review by Colchester Town Council and as such, the Masterson’s have yet to publicly comment on the matter.

Sanity, though, has prevailed to the west meanwhile, where go-ahead has been given for a revitalising new gaming outfit in the town of Yate – in spite of objections from town authorities.

Presiding over the issue, South Gloucestershire Council had already given the nod for the conversion of a disused former jewellery store in Yate Shopping Centre to be given a new lease of life as an arcade last December, but Yate Town Council raised objections to revised plans by citing proximity to a nearby local youth centre – despite the slated arcade’s strict no under-18’s door policy.

For their part, petitioners for the arcade had already laid out their stall in the original application from last year.

“Amusement centres of this kind are harmless to nearby traders,” it read. “[Our] proposal has in its favour investment in the premises and the town centre, reoccupation by a permanent occupier, the introduction of a new vital and busy use, and a new leisure use in the centre.”

Ultimately the authority found this argument more compelling, and the AGC has been green-lit for a launch later this year.

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