THE Chancellor should stand by tough alcohol pricing plans, North East councils have warned.
In a move likely to alienate responsible drinkers, the 12 North East council leaders have called on the Government to adopt a minimum unit price for alcohol.
Last month, it emerged that the Government was set to drop plans for new alcohol charges amid opposition from senior Cabinet ministers.
They were concerned that voters would be hit with extra costs as a result of lobbying by health groups.
All 12 members of the Association of North East Councils say they support a 50p per unit minimum price, and have made strong representation to the Government on this in the recent consultation on a National Alcohol Strategy.
Association chair Paul Watson said: “The introduction of minimum unit pricing for alcohol will not in itself resolve all of the issues linked to alcohol harm, but has the potential to make a significant contribution in reducing alcohol-related deaths, crime and social disorder.”
The Sunderland Council leader added: “Councils across the North East urge the Government to seize this opportunity to introduce legislation that will have a major positive effect on the health and wellbeing of people and society.”
Council chiefs say that around 40% of violent crime in the region is linked to alcohol, and more than a third of domestic abuse.
Colin Shevills, director of the publicly-funded alcohol group Balance, said: “Cheap alcohol devastates lives. Here in the North East, we have the highest rate of alcohol-related hospital admissions in the UK and the highest rate of under-18s in alcohol treatment.”