Tony Hogg has prioritised the battle against alcohol related crime and misuse. As well as the huge impact on police and crime, excessive alcohol consumption is estimated to cost the NHS around £3.5 billion a year nationally with extra costs falling on cash-strapped councils. In 2010/11 there were 198,900 hospital admissions attributed to alcohol abuse – an increase of 40 per cent in a decade.
The Local Government Association is now demanding that a new ‘public health’ objective is taken into account when reaching licensing decisions in a bid to tackle the issue. It is also urging the Government to end bizarre rules that prevent councils from acting on warnings from local health experts
Local health experts – under the Police and Social Responsibility Act 2011 – are able to present health-related evidence, such as ambulance call-out data and hospital admissions, to councils ruling on licenses.
However, under government rules councils are forced to ignore this advice when considering applications. This is restricting their ability to fulfil their public health responsibilities and protect communities.
Mr Hogg agrees that local areas should be able to limit the opening of late-night pubs, clubs and off licences in areas where public safety and alcohol-related health problems are rife.
“I find it astonishing that some key factual evidence cannot be used when licence applications are being considered.” said Mr Hogg. “Councils are best placed to make these important decisions which clearly have a major impact on our local communities. Applications must be turned down when there is overwhelming evidence to do so. Health, police and community safety concerns have to be listened to fully.”
Easy access to alcohol, through late night off-licences for example, can exacerbate the problem for those battling addictions or compound existing alcohol related health issues in an area.
Cllr Katie Hall, Chair of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said:
“Councils continue to embrace their public health responsibilities to improve the health of their communities. By shifting this responsibility back to councils, the Government has rightly acknowledged they are best-placed to take local decisions for their residents.
“Local health experts have a vital role to play in advising councils on the potential impacts of an application to open new licensed premises. That makes it even more nonsensical that councils are being forced to ignore their advice when considering additional licences they know could be a health hazard.
“The Government needs to see sense and help communities by updating licensing rules and adding a new health objective. This would help improve the health of local areas and also ease the pressure on the nation’s stretched health services.”
Mr Hogg has invited supermarkets and retailers to ‘round table’ talks next month to discuss his concerns about alcohol related crime and misuse in Devon and Cornwall.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
EMBARGO: 00.01 Saturday 15 February 2014
1. The Licensing Act 2003 currently has four licensing objectives:
2. The LGA has launched proposals for full reform of the licensing system. Open for Business: Rewiring Licensing, sets out the need for a system which is relevant, simple, cost neutral, risk-based and can address the issues of concern to local residents and businesses.
Member since: 10th July 2012
Hi, I am Dave, I run thebestof Exeter along with my colleagues. If you want to promote your business or event, get in touch with us on 01392 349 130.