Lancashire councils seek to limit short term loans

Local authorities in Lancashire are claiming they should have the ability to limit the number of short term loans providers springing up in town centre shops, MPs say.

The number of stores springing up in the region providing short term loans to those on benefits and low income earners has grown steeply over the past 18 months, ministers say.  Some 15 shops now operate in Accrington, Burnley, and Blackburn supplying instant cash loans to those in need.

Local councils have little power to control the number of such businesses proliferating in town centres since they are classified as retail outlets.  This means that the lenders need not concern themselves with seeking permission from the council to set up shop if they move into premises that were recently vacated by shops.

Graham Jones, MP for Haslingden and Hyndburn, remarked that local authorities need the ability to make decisions without interference from Whitehall.  There is simply not enough localism for Mr Jones’ taste, he said, citing not just payday advance lenders but amusement arcades and other such off licence establishments, adding that councils need complete freedom in deciding who is allowed to set up a business within their town.

Andrew Stephenson, MP for Pendle, also commented, stating that there are a large number of deprived areas in East Lancashire where councils could deem the presence of certain types of shops as wholly inappropriate.  However, Mr Stephenson added that the Government is empowering local communities to have control of decisions such as these through the Localism Bill.

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