Crackdown on sales of cheap alcohol in Sunderland

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NORTH East councils have joined forces to demand the government cracks down on the sale of cheap booze.

The leaders of all 12 of the region’s local authorities have issued an open letter calling for national measures to reduce the widespread availability of discount strong alcohol.

The Association of North East Councils (ANEC) is urging the three main political parties to include measures in their election manifestos to address the problems.

The association says that here in the North East:

l one child is admitted to hospital every day because of alcohol;

l alcohol-related hospital admissions in the over-65s have doubled in the past 10 years;

l more than 570 alcohol-related crimes are recorded every day;

l and it costs £3million a day to clean up the problems caused by cheap booze.

The open letter coincides with today’s National Day of Action on Alcohol Harm, organised by a number of organisations – including Balance, the North East Alcohol Office – to highlight the impact alcohol is having nationwide and encourage MPs to support measures aimed at reducing the levels of alcohol-related harm, including the introduction of a minimum unit price, making alcohol less available and restricting alcohol marketing.

Sunderland City Council leader Coun Paul Watson is chairman of ANEC: “All 12 local authorities are working extremely hard with partners across the region to reduce the alcohol harms that we continue to see on a daily basis,” he said.

“However, this is not something that we can tackle at just a local level.

“We need support from Government to implement evidence-based measures to reduce the affordability, the availability and the marketing of alcohol and we urge the main parties to ensure that these are included in their upcoming manifestos.

“Only then will we truly be able to reduce alcohol harms.”

Balance director Colin Shevills added: “It’s extremely positive that 12 council leaders across the North East are calling on Government to prioritise tackling alcohol misuse - and also supporting the National Day of Action on Alcohol Harm.

“Here in the North East we continue to suffer at the hands of alcohol.

“The fact is that too many people are drinking too much too often and it is having a devastating impact across the region. This is driven by alcohol that is too cheap, too widely available and too heavily marketed.”