Internet campaign launched to stop alcohol price rise

Councillor Luke Stubbs
Councillor Luke Stubbs
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AN internet campaign has been launched by a Portsmouth councillor to oppose plans to raise alcohol prices.

Eastney and Craneswater Tory councillor Luke Stubbs believes proposals by the city council – which could push prices up at shops as well as pubs – discriminate against the poor.

As reported in The News, the council is monitoring a by-law being prepared by Manchester authorities, under which a minimum price for booze will be set.

If it succeeds, the council could introduce its own minimum charge, which could be set at 75p per unit of alcohol.

Cllr Stubbs, who has now set up a group on Facebook against any price rise, said: ‘It’s a tax by another name and it would discriminate only against poorer people in the city. More affluent people in Portsmouth have the cash and transport to travel out of the city to stock up. Poorer people don’t have that, so in some cases will be a captive audience for increased prices.’

The minimum alcohol pricing is one of a number of proposals being considered by the council to reduce drinking in the city.

It comes as the number of alcohol-related hospital admissions in the city rose by 59 per cent.

A year-long study also suggested 40,000 people in the city drink more than government recommended levels of alcohol, and 7,000 are dependent on alcohol.

Cllr Stubbs said: ‘There’s no denying that some people have a drink problem, but that’s no reason to penalise everybody.

‘We’re talking about pushing up off-licence prices by 50 per cent and more. That’s deeply unfair. Alcohol prices are already among the highest in Europe. There’s no reason why they should go up again. Really serious drinkers would carry on anyway.

‘I don’t think the sort of people who buy a few cans of beer or a bottle of wine from a shop are all the same as people who go out, drink to excess, and cause trouble in our streets.’

His Facebook campaign group is ‘Stop Portsmouth council increasing alcohol prices by over 50 per cent’.

Cllr Stubbs said: ‘I hope people will sign up because I think we should show there are people here who think the scheme’s unfair.’