THE top dog at one of Britain's leading bookmakers said communities should be aware of the positive benefits their business brings to Haringey before launching a "moral crusade" against them.

William Hill chief executive Ralph Topping spoke out following the revelation that Haringey Council plans to investigate the rising numbers of gambling venues that critics argue are overtaking areas like Green Lanes, Wood Green, and Tottenham.

The company, whose head office has been in Station Road, Wood Green, for the past decade, employs more than 250 people in Haringey, prompting Mr Topping to ask the public to consider positive aspects such as the economic contribution William Hill makes to the area.

The chief executive said: "Betting shops satisfy market demand for gambling which otherwise would be driven underground in the form of illegal betting in clubs and pubs as well as illegal gaming machine use in cafes and other social outlets. Betting shops are small communities, generate footfall for other retailers and add to the vibrancy of an area."

Mr Topping added: "Our detractors do their best to give betting shops a bad name, but before demonising the betting industry in the same breath as claiming that they are not engaged in a moral crusade, they ought to reflect on the positive aspects, not least the direct and indirect economic contribution we make and the employment we provide.

"I would urge betting shop customers and local businesses to turn up to the enquiry to make sure all opinions on this issue are heard."

The investigation, being conducted by the council's overview and scrutiny committee, will take place on November 10 at Haringey Civic Centre.

Evidence will be heard from groups across the community including bookmakers, including a representative from William Hill, residents associations and other traders.