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."

News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Sport
footballManchester City 1 Roma 1: Result leaves Premier League champions in danger of not progressing
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
News
i100
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
booksWell it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Commercial Litigation NQ+

    Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE NQ to MID LEVEL - An e...

    MANCHESTER - SENIOR COMMERCIAL LITIGATION -

    Highly Attractive Pakage: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - A highly attractive oppor...

    Senior Marketing Manager - Central London - £50,000

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...

    Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

    £90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

    Day In a Page

    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
    The magic of roundabouts

    Lords of the rings

    Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
    Why do we like making lists?

    Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

    Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
    Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

    A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

    As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
    Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

    Paris Fashion Week

    Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
    Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

    Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

    One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
    10 best children's nightwear

    10 best children's nightwear

    Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
    Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

    Manchester City vs Roma

    Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
    Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

    Trouble on the Tyne

    Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?