THE deputy leader of Worcester City Council has defended St Martin’s Quarter – and says there is nothing wrong with a betting shop opening up.

Councillor Marc Bayliss says he is confident the £75 million complex will attract more retailers, and insists it is wrong to criticise the development’s progress.

His comments come after concerns were expressed that a Ladbrokes betting shop would be the next outlet to open on the site. Ladbrokes will join Asda, budget chain B&M, health chain Fit4Free and Costa Coffee.

Councillor Joy Squires, Labour’s parliamentary candidate, has said the move goes against the original vision for the quarter, which was for a more upmarket mix of cafes, restaurants and shops. Coun Bayliss, who is also the city’s cabinet member for economic prosperity, said: “I welcome the investment – a betting shop is a perfectly legal activity and I don’t understand her concerns. It’s a very middle class attitude to have.

“I am disappointed she doesn’t want to bring jobs and prosperity to the city.” He also said the quarter, off City Walls Road, does have a bright future despite a slow start for retailers signing up.

“I want to see the units full and St Martin’s Quarter part of a vibrant, thriving heart of Worcester,” he said. “This was always going to be a mixed development and we should never say ‘no’ to jobs and investment. It looks very attractive and I don’t see why it shouldn’t be a success.” Coun Squires hit back by saying she was “absolutely not anti-jobs”.

“St Martin’s Quarter has the potential to be hugely successful and we all hope that’s the case, but I’m still not convinced about a betting shop,” she said. Carillion Richardson, which is marketing St Martin’s Quarter, has revealed the site’s second phase is being announced soon, themed on restaurants.

The complex, which is anchored by Asda, has 284,000 sq ft of floor space.