New Tameside ‘booze levy’- the right solution?

I am always keen to read about new schemes intended to solve the problem of trouble on city centre streets at the end of nights. It is a problem which urgently needs addressing for a number of reasons. However, I do not believe that the new scheme which will impose a ‘booze levy’ on pubs and clubs in order to finance policing and other requirements during the night in city centres will be hugely effective. The scheme, being introduced by Tameside Council, seems to target pub and club owners and make their lives more difficult while doing nothing to target the problems which occur as a result of people drinking alcohol from supermarkets before they go out.

I do not believe that the pubs and clubs in city centres are uniquely responsible for the problems caused on the streets of city centres. The problems of late night drinking were made far worse by the introduction of 24 hour licensing by the last government. Rather than people drinking less because pubs and clubs were open for longer, the problems of binge drinking have continued because people simply choose to go out later, having already drunk cheap supermarket alcohol at home.

I believe that the cheap alcohol available at supermarkets is as much to blame for the alcohol-related incidents in city centres as pubs and clubs. Due to the new licensing laws, people are now choosing to drink more alcohol available at lower prices from supermarkets before going for a later night out. This to me seems to be the real cause of problems in city centres at night, rather than pubs and clubs staying open past midnight.

It does not seem that the money raised from the new ‘booze levy’ in Tameside will provide anything near enough to fund extra police officers and taxi marshalls so the scheme is flawed both in terms of the ideas it is based on and in terms of practicality.

We should keep looking for solutions to the problems of alcohol-related incidents and I will continue to support any scheme which has a good chance of improving the situation but I think that this scheme is simply targeting the problem in the wrong way.

4 responses to “New Tameside ‘booze levy’- the right solution?

  1. “The problems of late night drinking were made far worse by the introduction of 24 hour licensing by the last government.”

    Is there any evidence for this? from what I’ve seen previously crime and anti-social behaviour hasn’t increased, however it has become more spread out, making it easier to police.

    What % of the pubs/bars in Manchester actually hold late licenses anyway? I find it incredibly difficult to find a place that’s open later than they were previously and only know of two or three in Manchester. Have no idea about Tameside but suspect there’s even less.

    However I agree generally with your point on supermarkets. They shouldn’t be receiving special treatment when it comes to their responsibilities, just as the bars and pubs shouldn’t get special treatment either, which is why I’m against any minimum pricing measures. If you want them all to contribute equally to cleaning up the issue, then the one thing that hits them all is duty. But it’s politically a bad move, and of course local councils don’t have any control over it.

  2. Don’t fall into the trap of blaming the last Labour administration for every ill imaginable. You’ll probably be in bed with them soon (God help us all!) I do agree that a levy is no solution and that obtaining cheap booze in supermarkets is not addressed. But really the problem lies with individual responsibility and tougher laws on public drunkenness. Until these are addressed you will simply perpetuate the two-tier society -those who can afford to drink themselves silly and those who cannot. No problem for the Bullingdon boys, but an unfair levy on the working lad or lass who just wants to enjoy a few drinks sensibly. A question of priorities, and sadly Lib Dems have once again fallen into the Tory trap!

  3. Hi Colin & Alex, thanks for your comments.
    It is a very tricky subject and there certainly isn’t a single solution to the problem. The Tameside initiative is a council one, not Government apologies if that wasn’t clear. John

  4. Have you looked at the Bath scheme where they fine people in A&E for being drunk and disorderly, by stationing officers in the hospital on Friday and Saturday nights?

    It seems to tick the boxes of being proportionate (only affecting people who drink to the point of violence or medical emergency), and reasonably low cost to implement.

    I agree with your comments on Tameside’s scheme – we should be encouraging people to drink in pubs and clubs, where they can be supervised by the bar staff (and obviously we need to make sure that supervision is happening). I believe that differential alcohol taxation for booze sold on licensed premises, and off-license in supermarkets, may be the correct answer here – certainly a better idea than minimum alcohol pricing.

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