PLANS to relax laws around the sale of booze in certain shops have been given the thumbs-down on Wearside as Parliament debates the idea.
A survey by North East alcohol office Balance of more than 2,700 people across the North East found that the majority are overwhelmingly opposed to alcohol being available from businesses such as hair salons.
It comes as MPs are due to debate proposals to introduce a Community and Ancillary Sellers’ Notice as part of the Deregulation Bill in the House of Commons today.
The changes would enable those whose core business is not the sale of alcohol or provision of regulated entertainment to avoid regulations to sell alcohol as part of a wider business contract.
It would make it easier for businesses such as hairdressers, florists, children’s soft play areas and tanning salons to sell booze.
The North East has almost 8,000 licensed premises, making it one of the highest densities in the country.
In the survey, 84 per cent asked said hairdressing salons should not be a place for alcohol to be served, while 77 per cent said they were against it being sold on garage forecourts. More than 60 per cent believe alcohol shouldn’t be on sale in cinemas as well.
Colin Shevills, director of Balance, said: “The availability of alcohol in the North East is already too widespread and the proposed introduction of measures making it easier for businesses to sell alcohol will do even more harm to our region and its communities.
“Alcohol is already available round the clock, every day of the year from locations as diverse as petrol stations and soft play areas. It has also become much more affordable, costing 61 per cent less in real terms than in 1980.
“These shifts have contributed to a significant increase in alcohol-related harms across the North East, including some of the highest rates of alcohol-related hospital admissions, mortality and morbidity.”
Alcohol abuse costs the Sunderland economy more than £26million annually.
Mr Shevills added: “Ancillary licenses will only make matters worse.
“It will remove barriers certain businesses currently face when obtaining licenses making it harder for local licensing officers to object.
“If this legislation is implemented, it will effectively mean that the Government is encouraging more alcohol consumption rather than less.
“This is not what the people of the North East want.”