Local Conservative Parliamentary Candidate, Gordon Henderson, is calling on the Government to back up Swale Borough Council in its campaign to control the abuse of alcohol in public places and take tough action against the uncontrolled spread in binge-drinking.
The latest Home Office crime figures have revealed that across Swale there were 2092 violent attacks last year. Based on Government surveys of crime victims, 983 of these attacks could have been alcohol-related.
There is growing concern about the overlapping problems of late-night drinking, fast food outlets selling alcohol at night, under-age drinking, the easy availability of high-strength alcohol, and retailers like supermarkets selling alcohol below cost-price. Labour’s licensing laws, which came into effect in 2005, have created a presumption in favour of alcohol licences being given out, and imposed tight restrictions on who can object to any licensing application.
The Police Federation has warned that the need to police town centres around the clock is making it harder to answer emergency calls elsewhere.
Conservative leader, David Cameron, has explained how the Conservative Party will tackle the problems of binge-drinking Britain:
• Stronger powers and more discretion for elected local councils, and a greater say for local residents on licensing applications.
• Tougher penalties for premises that sell alcohol to under-age drinkers.
• Reviewing the rules which allow fast food outlets like kebab shops to sell alcohol into the early hours.
• Changing the law to stop the ‘loss-leading’ sale of alcohol by retailers.
• Rebalancing the duty on alcohol: reducing rates on low-alcohol beers and ciders, and increasing it on very high-strength products (the likes of Tennent’s Super) and on alcopops.
Mr Henderson said:
“Labour’s licensing laws are too lax. To its credit, Swale Borough Council has introduced a ban on the consumption of alcohol in some public places and this has made a big impact on alcohol fuelled antisocial behaviour.
“But more needs to be done and I want to see the Government back up Swale Borough Council by giving them greater powers to tackle binge-drinking and ban the reckless sale of high-strength, bargain-basement alcohol that is damaging health and fuelling violence.
“Conservatives believe that socially responsible adults should be able to have a night out in Sittingbourne and Sheerness High Streets without fear of violence. Parents should be reassured that their children are not going to come to harm. We need to make our town centres totally safe at night once more.
“But let’s be quite clear; the licensees of Swale’s pubs should not be tarred with the same brush as irresponsible ‘vertical drinking’ bars or fast food outlets peddling booze into the early hours.”