Councils call for an end to 'Booze Street Britain'

Local authorities are powerless to prevent large numbers of licensed premises from filling our streets – in one case 77 within a kilometre

Councils are demanding the power to block new clubs, pubs and off-licences on public health grounds, as communities blighted by alcoholism become overrun by licensed premises.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said that "nonsensical" rules which force councillors to ignore advice from public health experts when considering licensing applications should be scrapped.

The problem of "Booze Street Britain" has been highlighted by figures from Salford, Greater Manchester, showing that in one area of the city, 77 premises have been approved to sell alcohol within a single kilometre.

Responsibilities for public health – including such issues as encouraging healthy lifestyles, cutting smoking and excessive use of alcohol – were handed to local authorities last year, along with ringfenced annual grants of £2.7bn.

However, the LGA said that licensing laws which did not recognise local health concerns made a mockery of councils' responsibilities to their populations, and called on the Government to update the Licensing Act.

The current rules mean that, while councils can receive advice from local health experts and look at evidence including ambulance call-out data and hospital admissions, they must ignore it when making licensing decisions. In theory, they would leave themselves open to prosecution if they reject a licence on public health grounds.

In many parts of the country, the rules have led to large numbers of off-licences opening up within yards of one another, often selling cheap alcohol in poorer urban areas.

In Salford, Mayor Ian Stewart has campaigned for public health to be taken into account in licensing applications. Councillor Val Burgoyne, chair of Salford Council's health and well-being committee, told The Independent on Sunday that rows of shops selling cheap alcohol had led to increased drinking, particularly among underage teenagers.

"If they can't get it at one, they will go on to another. If you have several in a row, they'll keep trying and somewhere they're going to get it," she said. "We've got to think of the health of our young people and the entire population and we want to get the support from the Government for this."

Excessive alcohol consumption is estimated to cost the NHS about £3.5bn a year, and extra costs could fall on councils under plans to integrate the cost of health and social care. New figures released last week showed that 8,367 deaths were caused by alcohol in the UK in 2012 – up by 8 per cent since 2002.

Councillor Katie Ward said that the Government had been right to shift responsibility for public health to a local level, but warned that licensing rules were preventing communities from lowering alcohol consumption. "Local health experts have a vital role to play in advising councils on the potential impacts of an application to open new licensed premises," she said. "That makes it even more nonsensical that councils are forced to ignore their advice when considering additional licences they know could be a health hazard."

Rosanna O'Connor, the director of alcohol and drugs at Public Health England (PHE), said: "Harmful use of alcohol is a major public health problem in England, and more action is needed at national and local level to tackle it. PHE will be issuing guidance to support local authorities on making the best use of health data in their licensing decisions."

Home Office minister Norman Baker said last night: "We have not ruled out local authorities considering health impacts as part of the licensing process. The alcohol industry needs to accept there are legitimate concerns and seek to address these rather more so than it has done so far."

Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
Life and Style
food + drink
John Profumo and his wife Valerie Robson in 1959
voicesWard committed no crime, and the truth is still being covered up, writes Geoffrey Robertson QC
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
news... you won't believe how bad their skills were

Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright and Mark Wright
tvStrictly goes head-to-head with Apprentice
footballPremier League preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's clashes
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

    £65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

    Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

    Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

    £50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

    The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

    £27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas