The Money Shop have been refused permission to open a new store on Tower Bridge Road in London. The Money Shop now have over 407 branches in England but lost out on opening number 408 thanks to a total of 11 written objections.
The application was to change the use of 82 Tower Bridge Rd from an arcade to a class A2 premises – needed to be able to offer payday loans, selling gold for cash etc.
Main opposition came from Labour Councillor Claire Hickson who argued the road has many independent businesses situated on it and allowing a national chain like The Money Shop to open could lead to locally run shops being forced out.
“The proposal is contrary to the Core Strategy of reducing inequalities. MPs from all political parties have been campaigning against the practices of payday loan companies which apply huge interest rates, and this business has been criticised in Parliament for such practices,” Councillor Hickson told the meeting.
After the meeting Cllr Hickson told local website London SE1 that:
“I am delighted that we succeeded in getting this application for a new payday loan shop refused. The local Labour Party campaigned against it and for it to be taken to community council for a decision.”
“I argued that the presence of these shops is the opposite of sustainable economic development – they have grown rapidly in deprived areas while the economy and incomes decline. They send a bad signal about the health of our high streets. I am thrilled that Bermondsey councillors agreed that this part of Tower Bridge Road needs a boost not a business like this one.”
“My major concern about payday loans is that they can trap consumers in a cycle of debt if they cannot pay off the loan on time. Southwark and Lambeth Labour councillors have been campaigning against them since last year. Given the amount of concern about them, I am disappointed the Government is not prepared to go further than discussing a voluntary code of conduct to regulate them.” Source
Representatives of The Money Shop argued their presence would bring additional people to the road and provide much needed jobs for 16. They claim around 5000 new customers a month sign up for its cash till payday service. They also provide a cheque cashing service, foreign currency exchange and money transfers.
If planning had been granted they expected to average a hundred transactions per day Monday to Thursday and 250 on Fridays.
The Money Shop was mentioned in the House of Commons at the end of last year when Thurrock Conservative MP Jackie Doyle-Price told MPs that the chain…
“offers a payday loan at £9.99 per £100, which sounds reasonable, and it can be if people can pay it back within a month; if they cannot, they have no choice but to take out a fresh loan and some customers find themselves taking out a fresh loan every month and end up paying APRs of as much as 260 per cent.”
Opposition to the planning application had been well organised with a well publicised demonstration in November and the number of written objections received meant the decision was taken from the planning department and put in the hands of the councillors – some of those councillors were the very people who sent in the written objections to The Money Shop opening a new branch in the first place so it was pretty much a none starter.