Haringey Borough Council has admitted it lacks sufficient power or finances to stop more betting shops opening on the borough’s high streets.

New planning rules introduced on Friday May 31 would allow bookies to move into empty shops without needing permission to change the use of premises.

Ministers hope this will prevent high streets turning into ghost towns but critics argued the new legislation would means towns could be overrun by bookmakers and payday lenders.

Councillor Nilgun Canver, the cabinet member for the environment, said such shops often target poorer areas of the borough.

She said: “In some town centres in Haringey there are now clusters of betting shops but unfortunately there is little, if anything, that councils can do about this.

“Betting shops are clustered in some of the borough’s poorest areas and this limits consumer choice, inhibits regeneration and is of little benefit to the local economy or residents.

“There is also evidence of anti-social and criminal behaviour associated with these shops as hard pressed gamblers lose substantial funds on the machines.”

There are 11 betting shops in Tottenham High Road alone and figures released in February showed punters spent more than £365million at Fixed Odds Betting Terminals in the borough’s bookmakers.

Cllr Canver said: “The council has tried several avenues to try to reduce betting shop clusters it does not have sufficient powers or finances to address this problem.

“We pressed the Government to introduce a separate planning category for betting shops that would mean them needing planning permission to change the use of a retail unit into a betting shop and allowing the views of the community to be taken into account before granting planning permission but the Government did the opposite.”

The St Ann’s ward councillor added that the new rules disempower communities and reduces the council’s ability to limit the number of betting shops meaning more could appear in high streets.