Local authorities should offer range of leisure activities, not just pubs, says quango

By Gurjit Degun

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Health Health care

A Government quango has recommended that local authorities should offer a wide range of leisure and cultural activities, rather than just licensed premises, to tackle alcohol harm.

The recommendation comes in new guidance document from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), an agency of the National Health Service that offers guidance on public health.

The document advises councils to map alcohol-related problems locally “before developing or reviewing a licensing policy to ensure an area offers a wide range of leisure and cultural-based activities, rather than just providing alcohol-related entertainment”.

The online guidance links to how local authorities should tackle this, encouraging them to limit the number of new licensed premises in the area. It noted: “If an area is saturated with licensed premises and the evidence suggests that additional premises may affect the licensing objectives, adopt a ‘cumulative impact’ policy. If necessary, limit the number of new licensed premises in a given area.”

The guidance explained that action should be taken against premises that regularly sell alcohol to underage people, using test operations to determine this. It also notes that closure notices should be given to those that persistently sell alcohol to children and young people.

The NICE report aims to help councils meet the objectives set out in the Public Health Outcomes Framework (PHOF) for England, which sets out the Department of Health’s vision for public health and outcomes to be achieved. It is based on recommendations from existing NICE public health and clinical guidance.

Professor Mike Kelly, director of the Centre for Public Health Excellence at NICE, said: “This tailored information highlights why each topic is an important issue to tackle and how local communities will benefit as a result.

“For example, alcohol-related harm is estimated to cost the NHS in England around £3.5 billion per year. Reducing alcohol-related harm, by encouraging a more sensible drinking culture, will improve health by reducing the number of deaths from cardiovascular disease (including heart disease and stroke), cancer and liver disease.

“Tackling this issue will help local authorities meet their statutory duty to achieve the indicators outlined in the Public Health Outcomes Framework. This type of information is given in the briefings along with examples of good practice and quick facts and figures to make a case for action.”

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