Portsmouth councillors don’t see the point in alcohol price rise

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CALLING TIME? A special offer on alcohol in a supermarket
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CITY leaders have refused to back plans for a minimum price on the sale of alcohol.

All 11 councillors who went to a workshop about the government’s proposal to put a 45p price on every unit sold in the UK said they didn’t think the move would stop heavy drinking.

The findings come as a Health First report published by the University of Stirling recommends the nation’s drink-problem could be tackled if the price was increased to 50p per unit.

The workshop, held by Safer Portsmouth Partnership, is one of a number being carried out across the country to see what councils think.

The Home Office will then look to draw up a new policy which takes into account everyone’s opinions.

Conservative councillor Luke Stubbs said any change would be ‘wildly unpopular’.

‘Higher alcohol prices won’t significantly cut consumption. They’ll just make price sensitive shoppers poorer,’ he said.

‘A minimum alcohol price of 50p a unit would make a can of beer at least £1, which is about 60 per cent higher than is charged by the discount retailers. When the government finds consumption remains the same, you can guarantee its response will be to increase prices yet further.

‘If this policy is actually introduced it will be wildly unpopular.

‘That most councillors of all parties oppose it is a sign of things to come.’

The government is looking to make a change because it wants to reduce harmful drinking while protecting people who drink in moderation.

The Health First report also called for the creation of an independent body which would regulate alcohol promotion and put health warnings on at least a third of the label of alcohol on sale.

The findings from the workshop was discussed at the council’s environment and community safety meeting.

Cllr Eleanor Scott, who chaired the meeting, said the results were disappointing because she was in favour of a price rise. Cllr Scott said the move would stop supermarkets being able to sell cheap booze and thinks pubs encouraging moderation would benefit.

‘I’m not against pubs and I see them as great places to socialise,’ she said.

‘I don’t think anything about this plan is bad for pub culture.’

Cllr Ken Ellcome said: ‘We have a terrible drink problem in Portsmouth but I can’t see this working. I don’t believe in punishing the innocent people who are responsible drinkers.’