Councils eye minimum pricing move

By John Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Mandatory licensing conditions Camden Poppleston allen

Nine councils are considering measures to tackle the availability of cheap alcohol
Nine councils are considering measures to tackle the availability of cheap alcohol
Nine councils in England and Wales are considering bringing their own alcohol minimum pricing strategies, according to research conducted by Poppleston Allen.

Of the nine, five have indicated that the matter will be considered as part of their revised statement of licensing policy that will be introduced over the next year. Two confirmed that informal arrangements had been implemented with some operators, although no enforcement procedures had yet been engaged.

According to the Poppleston Allen, many licensing officers have concerns regarding the legality of setting minimum alcohol prices following last month’s introduction of the ban on sales below the combined total of VAT and duty, via the Licensing Act 2003 (Mandatory Licensing Conditions) Order 2014.

Separately, the research found that 10 licensing authorities have confirmed that they are planning to ban sales of high strength alcohol as part of the revision of their statement of licensing policy. The regions include Bedford, Canterbury, Eastbourne, Hackney, Haringey, Hounslow, Oxford, Southampton, Tameside and Wakefield.

Super strength

In addition, five councils - Camden, Chelmsford, Conwy, Islington and Wrexham - have confirmed interest in introducing a “Reduce the Strength Campaign”, following the introduction of the scheme in Ipswich, which sees outlets agree to remove ‘super strength’ (6.5% ABV+) alcohol from their shelves.

Currently Bath & North East Somerset, Camden, Ealing, Medway, Portsmouth, Swale and Welwyn Hatfield have imposed conditions on some premises licences, restricting the sale of beers and ciders above 6.5% ABV.

Crawley, Derby, Hastings, Mid-Suffolk, Milton Keynes and Wolverhampton have all run voluntary schemes restricting the sale of high strength alcoholic beverages.

Graeme Cushion, partner at Poppleston Allen, said: “Whilst only 10.9% of licensing authorities may be considering or implementing such alcohol regulation strategies, following the introduction of the Government’s Local Action Areas in early 2014, such voluntary schemes may be seen as a more popular approach to tackling issues related to the licensed trade.”

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