School children join plea over minimum alcohol pricing

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CAMPAIGNERS calling for a minimum price for alcohol to be introduced are urging ministers to stand firm and back proposals.

It comes amid reports that Conservative MPs are split whether to vote in favour of bringing in a set price of 45p per unit of booze.

The Home Office is considering the plans as part of a 10-week consultation.

North East pressure group Balance, which has been recommending a minimum unit price (MUP) of 50p, says alcohol abuse costs Sunderland about £50million each year.

The organisation argues that setting a minimum will save thousands of lives each year and reduce crime and hospital admissions.

Fears that the MUP could be shelved comes days after a pupil from Boldon School joined other youngsters to hand over a 6,000-strong petition at Downing Street calling for restrictions on alcohol advertising and promotion.

Colin Shevills, of Balance, said: “Here in the North East, we know that it is needed and it is wanted – evidence also tells us that it works.

“Our region continues to suffer from some of the highest levels of alcohol harm.

“We have the highest rate of alcohol-related hospital admissions and the highest rate of under 18s in alcohol treatment.

“It is supported by the majority of the North-East public, our GPs, police and publicans.

“Doctors, the police, emergency services and leading children’s charities all publicly endorse MUP, and public opinion polls show the majority of people support tough action on alcohol.

“We urge the Government to stand firm on MUP in the confidence that the evidence gets stronger, and the support base wider, for this policy by the day.”

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