Minimum booze cost ‘step in right direction’

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SPALDING landlords and police have welcomed calls by Prime Minister David Cameron for measures to help ensure responsible drinking.

Mr Cameron has vowed to launch a new strategy to tackle the “scandal” of drunkenness and alcohol abuse which blight many town centres on Friday and Saturday nights.

One of the measures that could be included come the autumn is a minimum price on alcohol, which could see the cost of supermarket own brand bottle of vodka rise from £8.35 to £11.85 and a cheap bottle of wine from £3.75 to £4.20.

It is hoped that it will discourage people from binge drinking and getting “pre-loaded” before they go out for a night in town.

Insp Rod Rose, of Lincolnshire Police, said: “Many people choose to buy cheaper alcohol from supermarkets to drink before they go out because at the moment some alcohol is very cheap.

“If a minimum price was introduced it might result in a reversal of that trend.

“People would still only have the same amount of money but if they spent it in pubs and clubs they would not have so much alcohol and therefore not get so intoxicated and would not be so incapable of behaving themselves.

“A lot of problems we face at the moment are because people are coming into town after having so much to drink at home first.

“It is the police and health services who have to pick up the pieces when people get out of control”

Matt Clark, owner of Spalding’s Loaded nightclub, said there is a definite trend of people drinking at home before a night out.

“He said: “Our venues are predominantly entertainment so we don’t rely so much on the sale of alcohol but pubs and bars need those sales to stay alive.

“I think people definitely do pre-load because we have definitely seen an increase in the number of people coming to Loaded straight from home who are already inebriated.”

And Pete Williams, landlord of the Punchbowl in New Road, said: “A lot of people don’t come into town now until 10pm or 11pm and they are already well oiled, then they may only buy two drinks in the pub until closing time.

“They come in to enjoy the ambience but they are already at the alcohol level they want to be at to enjoy the evening and I don’t get the benefit of taking their money.

“So I would welcome a minimum charge, it would be a miniscule amount of help but it’s a step in the right direction.”