Merseyside reignites minimum price debate

10 December, 2010

Residents of the Wirral on Merseyside are being consulted on a minimum pricing plan for alcohol in the area.

The authority is the first to do so in the Merseyside region and others are expected to follow.

Wirral Council’s consultation exercise will run until February 18 next year. An online survey of residents’ views is being conducted and the results will be fed back to the council’s licensing committee.

The council said the move was one of a number of measures being examined to reduce the impact of excessive alcohol consumption in the area.

Councillor Sue Taylor, Wirral Council’s licensing chairwoman, said: “We have contacted many of the organisations involved in the sale of alcohol or dealing with the more extreme consequences of alcohol consumption, but I also want to give residents who may have views the chance to comment as well.

“We are keen to work with the government to stop large supermarkets selling alcohol at below cost price and to reform the licensing laws to give local communities more control.”?Meanwhile, Manchester’s plans for a minimum unit price have stalled despite apparent support from Prime Minister David Cameron, and Brighton is now considering a similar move.

The Association of Convenience Stores has joined the chorus of voices expressing concern about locally implemented minimum price schemes.

Public affairs director Shane Brennan said: “Governments have to be clear that measures such as minimum pricing will actually affect alcohol consumption among the binge-drinking minority. We remain unconvinced that such schemes will lead to reduced consumption by problem groups, and are likely instead to increase prices for the majority of responsible drinkers.”?He added: “Is it really a good idea to impose a minimum price in one town only, in this case encouraging Brighton residents into making booze cruises to neighbouring Newhaven or Lewes to get better deals?”

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