Minimum alcohol prices 'brought in by stealth', say drinks firms
Drinks firms fear that minimum pricing on alcohol is being introduced by stealth despite the controversial policy being scrapped by the Coalition.
Newcastle City Council has become one of the first major authorities to tell all new licensed premises to charge 50p or more per unit of alcohol as it attempts to reduce rowdy behaviour fueled by drink.
The Welsh Government is investigating if it can bring in its own minimum pricing policy, while other councils including Manchester and Cheshire are understood to be considering it. The London borough of Newham says it already operates such a policy.
Headache: Councils want to curb binge-drinkers
The Scottish government tried to
impose minimum pricing last year but is mired in a legal battle over
whether it can do so under European law. The Coalition dropped plans to
introduce legislation in July after taking note of Scotland’s problems.
Stephen Savage, director of regulatory services at Newcastle City Council, said: ‘It’s a condition of all new licences and it has been approved. No one has yet tried to change it or challenge it.’
spokesman for the British Beer and Pub Association said that there were
‘significant competition policy implications for what Newcastle is
proposing’ and that it was seeking guidance from the Office of Fair
As well as
banning sales of alcohol in new bars and restaurants at less than the
minimum price, Newcastle has also stopped promotions such as happy hours
and giveaways.It has also turned its attention to off-licences.
of cider or beer above 5 per cent alcohol by volume are no longer
allowed and sales of individual cans have been banned to discourage
Savage said: ‘As a council in favour of minimum pricing we believe it protects the city, drives quality and boosts business as the centre becomes a much more desirable place to go.’
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