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Tower Bridge Road payday loan shop: councillor’s fears of rising debt

A planning application for a payday loan shop in Tower Bridge Road will now be decided by Bermondsey Community Council after Southwark Council received 12 objections from local residents.

Tower Bridge Road payday loan shop: councillor’s fears of rising debt

We reported in November on the application by Instant Cash Loans Ltd (trading as The Money Shop) which wants to open a branch in the former amusement arcade at 82 Tower Bridge Road.

Among the objectors is Chaucer ward councillor Claire Hickson who represents part of the western side of Tower Bridge Road opposite the proposed payday loan shop.

"I am very concerned that people in the Bermondsey area who are struggling to make ends meet may be forced to make use of this shop's services and end up in even more debt," says Cllr Hickson.

"That is why I and my fellow Labour Party members are objecting to this planning application. Payday loan shops provide quick and easy credit – but the true costs are often hidden. Interest rates can be very high and those who can't pay back the loan within a month can get into ever more debt."

The number of objections received means that the application (11/AP/3808) will now be decided by councillors rather than planning officers. The decision is likely to be made by Bermondsey Community Council at its planning meeting on 16 February.

The proposed Money Shop outlet would be the second payday loan shop in the SE1 area. A branch of the Cash 22 chain opened last year at the Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre.

Labour peer Lord Kennedy of Southwark raised the issue of payday loans in the House of Lords on Tuesday. He asked the Government about what action they will take to ensure consumers are fully informed of the cost of such loans.

"I agree with the noble Lord that a well informed consumer is an empowered consumer," replied business minister Lady Wilcox.

"The information which is given out is often process driven by the people wishing to lend the money rather than those trying to borrow it.

"I have spent a long time looking at this, so I am with the noble Lord. I would welcome any ideas that he has which would enable us to work together on this."

Lib Dem peer Lord Newby asked a supplementary question urging the Government to promote credit unions as an alternative to high street loan shops.

Lady Wilcox replied: "My noble friend is absolutely right: credit unions are the way to go. Why they have never taken off in Great Britain, I will never know.

"For years and years consumer groups have tried to get people to save with credit unions.

"However, the Department for Work and Pensions will shortly report on its study on how we can best support these credit unions, which wish to extend their services to benefit many more customers."

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