Time called on cheap drinks in Portsmouth

END OF THE CHEAP DEALS A beer offer at a supermarket offering eight cans for 38 - which could be a thing of the past soon in Portsmouth
END OF THE CHEAP DEALS A beer offer at a supermarket offering eight cans for 38 - which could be a thing of the past soon in Portsmouth

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EIGHT cans for £8 – it’s an offer many would take up. But deals like this, could be a thing of the past in Portsmouth.

Portsmouth City Council could pass a by-law setting a minimum price for alcohol sold in bars and shops across the city.

The rule is likely to see a can of lager sold in shops increase from under £1 to around £1.65.

It would also ban ‘special offers’ and ‘buy one get one free’ drink deals at off-licences, bars and pubs.

The council has agreed to monitor a by-law currently being prepared by councils in Manchester.

Under the north-western scheme, alcohol would not be allowed to be sold for less than 50p per unit, meaning a 440ml can of five per cent lager would have to cost £1.20.

If it succeeds, Portsmouth City Council is considering a 75p charge per unit.

It’s part of a crackdown on binge drinking proposed for the city, and is designed to stop people ‘pre-loading’ – getting drunk before going out.

At Guildhall Walk, 11 pubs and bars signed a voluntary pledge in July not to sell alcoholic drinks for under £1.50.

But the new law would extend rules to the entire city and would also end happy hours.

The council is reacting to a 59 per cent increase in the number of Portsmouth residents taken to hospital due to alcohol abuse, from 1,184 per 100,000 in 2002/3, to 2,017 in 2009/10.

In St Thomas ward, 20 per cent of people surveyed said they drink every day, and in Eastney and Craneswater, 45 per cent admitted they binge drink.

Council figures also suggest 40,000 people in the city drink more than the government’s recommended amount, and 7,000 are dependent on alcohol.

The council’s leader for community safety, Councillor Eleanor Scott, said: ‘It’s a serious problem. It causes deaths and family break-ups.

‘We’re looking at everything to ensure people are informed and protected from alcohol’s worst effects.

‘We’re not anti-pub, but there are some places which spoil things for the rest. We’d not be doing our jobs if we didn’t work to ensure people don’t damage their health by drinking.’

But she also admitted the study of Manchester’s scheme would be vital to the council’s final decision.

She said: ‘There are potential issues. We want to be certain this would have a good effect before we went ahead. For example, what would stop people getting a train out of the city and stocking up on cheap booze? We want this to be a national policy. But if it works in Manchester we’ll take it seriously.’

The effect of 75p per unit

The effect of the minimum price initiative may not be felt in most of the city’s bars, but off-licence shoppers are likely to be hit in the pocket.

At The Northcote Hotel, Francis Avenue, Southsea, the prices below would be unaffected:

· Pint of lager – £3.20

· Small glass of white wine – £3.10

· Premium lager pint – £3.60

· Single spirit and mixer – £2.40

· Real ale, pint – £3

But at Tesco, the following charges would change:

· Guinness Draught, 18 cans – £17 (offer cost), becomes £24.30.

· Stella, four pint cans – £5.79 (standard), becomes £8.86

· Tesco ‘Strong Cider’ – £3.49 (standard cost), becomes £11.93

· Merlot Pinot Grigio, 750ml bottle – £4.99 (standard cost), becomes £6.75