Balance North East claim alcohol is too widely available in the region

MPs will today debate plans to relax licencing laws, but Balance claims people feel alcohol is already too widely available

Katie Collins/PA Wire A woman drinking a glass of wine
A woman drinking a glass of wine

Alcohol campaigners Balance North East claim Government plans to relax licencing laws are overwhelmingly opposed by people in the North East.

MPs will today debate proposals to introduce measures as part of the Deregulation Bill that could make it easier for businesses such as hairdressers, florists and tanning salons to sell booze.

But the pressure group Balance say the results of their new survey show there is no appetite for the change, and with almost 8,000 locations already selling alcohol in the region, there are already too many.

“The availability of alcohol in the North East is already too widespread and the proposed introduction of measures making it easier for businesses to sell alcohol will do even more harm to our region and its communities,” Colin Shevills, the director of Balance, said.

“Alcohol is already available round the clock, every day of the year from locations as diverse as petrol stations and soft play areas.

“It has also become much more affordable, costing 61% less in real terms than in 1980.

“These shifts have contributed to a significant increase in alcohol-related harms across the North East, including some of the highest rates of alcohol-related hospital admissions, mortality and morbidity.”

Balance surveyed “more than 2,700 people” in the North East and said that 95% believed it’s unacceptable for alcohol to be sold in a children’s soft play area, 86% were against its sale at motorway service stations, 84% said hairdressing salons are no place for booze and 77% opposed alcohol being sold at petrol stations.

The group also found that 62% of those surveyed believed alcohol shouldn’t be on sale in cinemas.

A report by Alcohol Concern has previously linked the number of alcohol-related hospital admissions among children to the density of licensed premises and Mr Shevills fears that any relaxation of the rules governing alcohol sales will only make matters worse.

“It will remove barriers certain businesses currently face when obtaining licenses making it harder for local licensing officers to object,” he said. “If this legislation is implemented it will effectively mean that the Government is encouraging more alcohol consumption rather than less.

“This could not only have a damaging effect on the health and wellbeing of the community but also local pubs, which may suffer financially as a result of the increased competition.

“Introducing ancillary licenses will do more harm than good and it’s clear North East communities do not want them.”


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