Oldham's off-trade crackdown 'forgotten about'

By James Wilmore

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Oldham council Alcoholic beverage Supermarket

A controversial council's hardline plans to crackdown on the way supermarkets sell alcohol hang in the balance - and face being ditched altogether....

A controversial council's hardline plans to crackdown on the way supermarkets sell alcohol hang in the balance - and face being ditched altogether.

Oldham Council announced last November it was planning to review the licence of 17 supermarkets in the town.

The announcement followed an earlier high-profile clampdown on pubs and bars- with some venues being threatened with having to operate post-office style queues.

The plans were even the subject of an edition of the BBC's Panorama programme.

But now more than six months after Oldham's bid to also get tough on the town's off-trade, still nothing has happened.

Lee Le Clerq, the British Beer & Pub Association's regional secretary in the north, told The Publican​: "I think the plans have been quietly forgotten about."

Paul Smith, executive director of late-night operator trade group Noctis, who was involved in talks over the on-trade crackdown, said: "It was always a difficult one for them (the council) to get through, given the power of the supermarkets."

Oldham Council's original plans for stores selling alcohol below 50p a unit included creating a designated "alcohol zone", to stop them selling drinks in doorways.

A ban on unaccompanied under 18s inside the zone and the need to have a security guard in the zone were also being threatened.

At the time, Oldham councillor Mark Alcock, said: "We don't think the 'pile it high - sell it cheap' principle of supermarket retailing should apply to the responsible retailing of alcohol."

Gavin Partington, communications chief at the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said the trade body had proposed a meeting with the council about its plans for the off-trade but it had "never happened".

The Publican​ understands Oldham Council is now focussing on backing a bid to introduce a byelaw allowing North West councils to set a minimum price for alcohol.

Elaine McLean, Oldham's executive director for economy, places and skills, said: "Oldham Council began consulting on this matter in December 2009 and since then - following detailed talks with our regional counterparts - the 10 local authorities in the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities have joined forces to lobby the government for a 50p minimum price per unit on alcohol."

"This is a plan to tackle binge drinking plus the negative health effects of alcohol consumption, and it will work much more effectively if we can do it alongside our local partners.

"However, progress in this work - and our talks with central government - is affected at present by the uncertainties caused by recent local and national elections."

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