Oldham gets tough on supermarkets with major crackdown

By James Wilmore

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cheap drinks Alcoholic beverage Oldham council

Supermarkets in Oldham selling cheap alcohol face a series of tough crackdowns - including a ban on drink being sold in their doorways. In the...

Supermarkets in Oldham selling cheap alcohol face a series of tough crackdowns - including a ban on drink being sold in their doorways.

In the latest move by controversial Oldham Council, plans are in place to review the licence of 17 supermarkets in the town.

The council has caused controversy already this year by reviewing the licence of every bar in the town.

Now, in recognition of the problems caused by pre-loading, stores selling alcohol below 50p a unit will face a series of crackdowns, including:

  • The creation of an in-store designated alcohol zone (typically two aisles) with a clear 'gateway' to the zone;
  • A ban on running cheap drinks promotions outside that zone;
  • A ban on unaccompanied under 18s inside the zone;
  • A requirement for a security officer to be on duty during trading hours inside the zone;
  • A limit on the size of promotional material for cheap drinks promotions (maximum 20cm x 10cm); and
  • A requirement to display one of five responsible drinking messages during any cheap drinks

Councillor Mark Alcock, cabinet member for environment and infrastructure, said: "We don't think the 'pile it high - sell it cheap' principle of supermarket retailing should apply to the responsible retailing of alcohol.

"Whilst we accept that all shops must be free to compete with each other on price, we feel that this still requires social responsibility and that measures must be taken to limit the impact that this has on our communities."

Speaking about the licence reviews of every Oldham bar Cllr Alcock added: "We've been extremely pleased with the positive response that we received from our town centre bars to our attempts to tackle irresponsible drinks promotions.

"However, they rightly pointed out that much of the problem our town centre faces with drunkenness and disorder stems from 'pre-loading' - where people are already drunk on cheap booze deals from supermarkets before even arriving in the town centre.

"Last Sunday, for example, in one Oldham supermarket I was able to purchase two litres of cider for £1.21, which equates to 14 pence per unit."

A spokesman for the Wine and Spirit Trade Associaiton said it would be seeking an "urgent meeting" with the council over its plans.

"However we do not believe minimum pricing will address the issue of alcohol misuse," he added. "As we are making clear in Scotland minimum pricing punishes the poor and is illegal under UK and European law."

The council has given stores until the end of December to respond to its proposals before it decides whether to force changes to their licences.

Related topics Legislation

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