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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 January 2007, 13:20 GMT
Resort granted new casino licence
Mayor Nick Bye (l) and Adrian Sanders MP
Mayor Nick Bye (l) and Adrian Sanders MP
A decision to locate a new casino in a Devon resort has been greeted with both delight and dismay.

MP Adrian Sanders has challenged the Torbay's elected Mayor Nick Bye to hold a public referendum on the issue.

Mr Sanders said it would only offer an increase in crime and gambling addiction, in exchange for a small increase in low-value jobs.

But the decision by the Casino Advisory Panel has been welcomed by Mr Bye and the Torbay Development Agency.

Mr Bye said he believed the new casino could potentially be the key to developing the area, bringing visitors, jobs and investment to the resort.

My mum can't wait. She's 81 and at the moment she's got nowhere to go because she only comes alive after midnight
Nick Bye, Torbay Mayor

"In Torquay we're trying to recreate that 'Riviera' feel and we've got to make sure people come here, who might otherwise go and spend their money on cruise ships," he said.

"What we're talking about is something very sophisticated. Somewhere safe where there's entertainment, maybe a restaurant, cabaret and all that sort of thing later in the night.

"My mum can't wait. She's 81 and at the moment she's got nowhere to go because she only comes alive after midnight."

Mr Bye said he was confident a casino would not mean an increase in crime.

He said Devon and Cornwall Police had supported the application because Torquay's existing casino had no incidents of anti-social behaviour or crime.

'Increased crime'

Torbay Development Agency said it was reassured after talking to police, social services and the Citizens' Advice Bureau about any potential problems a casino might bring.

But Mr Sanders said the decision was "not good news".

He told BBC News: "Other areas expressed an interest in this, but when they looked at it in some detail they withdrew their application - that's how Torbay got on the list.

"I think the public have a right to say in a referendum whether this is the route they want us to take Torbay in terms of its regeneration, or whether there's an alternative route that doesn't run the risk of increased crime and gambling addiction."

More than 80% of people who responded to a text vote on a BBC Radio Devon phone-in programme said they were against a casino in the resort.

Elsewhere in the region, the Cornish resort of Newquay was not successful in its bid for one of the eight small casinos with 80 slot machines.




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