A sixth betting shop is set to open in the city centre, replacing the Last Bookshop.
The Ladbrokes branch is set to open early next year while the Last Bookshop, described by owner Jake Pumphrey as a ‘guerrilla’ bookseller, has moved to New Inn Hall Street.
They have taken over the empty premises of former herbal specialist Culpepper which went into administration over a year ago.
Ladbrokes have had their application to open a shop opposite the historic Town Hall approved by the council. Mr Pumphrey said it would be “a shame to have a bookmaker’s on the street”, which is also home to Christ Church and Pembroke college.
Richard Royal, a spokesperson for Ladbrokes, said: “We’re looking to open […] in the first quarter of next year. Our shop refits tend to cost £150-200k and the shop will create five or six new jobs, we expect. The reason we choose to open any shop is in response to customer demand.”
However Mr Pumphrey was philosophical about the change, saying: “I can’t really complain; I had a good run in St Aldate’s – longer than expected.”
He explained how the Last Bookshop operates on a model where he pays reduced rents on properties that would otherwise remain empty: “We are a guerrilla bookseller; we have to move around,” he said. “I cannot really blame the landlord, no doubt the bookies are going to be paying full whack.”
The shop has been in St Aldate’s for three years, selling books for as little as £2 each. They have branches in Bristol and Salisbury and a warehouse in Abingdon.
Concerns have been raised that a Ladbrokes could lower the tone of the street, with a bookshop better suited to the area’s ‘cultural’ vibe.
Tim Williams, a Somerville student, said: “I’m not opposed to betting shops per se, but it brings down the quality of shops in Oxford.”
Another first-year from St John’s added: “I think the fact that so many are popping up is a symptom of a worse social problem rather than an evil in itself.”
The Gambling Act 2005 states an application cannot be rejected on the basis of the number of gambling premises in the immediate area.