Shaken but not stirred on drink bill

Government plans
Government plans

SCARBOROUGH residents have given a quick verdict on government plans to introduce a minimum alcohol price level, saying it will “make no difference” to the drinking population.

Supermarkets, shops and pubs will be banned from selling drinks for less than the tax paid on them under plans to tackle binge drinking.

The changes mean that a can of lager must be priced at 38p, a bottle of wine must be priced a minimum of £2 and a one litre bottle of vodka, whisky or gin must cost £10.71 at least.

However, many people were sceptical that the change will help to resolve this issue and think it will have no effect on the prices of the majority of alcoholic drinks.

Rachel Nicholson, 21, of Trinity Road, said: “I don’t think it will make any difference at all as most alcoholic drinks are much more expensive than what has been set as the minimum prices.

“I’m a student and it won’t make a difference to me and I don’t think I’ll see any changes in town on a night out.”

Plumber John Peats, 47, of Beck Lane expressed similar concerns: “If people want to drink, they’ll drink, especially the younger generation, and they will always find a way to get it no matter what the price.”

Housewife Kelly Grant, 34, said the plans would not be a deterrent for teenagers determined to drink.

She said: “This will not many any difference as nothing can stop teenagers if they want to drink. They’ll just steal from their parents and it could push a few of them to start stealing to fund for their drinking.”

Nial O’Donnell, 62 of Murchison Street, said: “I think the minimum alcohol price levels will be ineffective in sorting out binge drinking as it doesn’t go far enough. People are talking about putting the limit up to 50p per unit, but I think it should be 60p at the very least.

“But with the planned minimum levels, I don’t think it will make any difference to people’s drinking habits at all.”

Administration clerk Virginia Gwizdala, 58, of Albert Square, was more optimistic. She said: “I hope it will make a difference and that it will prevent young people from being able to drink under age so easily.”

Kath Duffy, president of the Licensed Victuallers’ Association and landlady of the Newcastle Packet pub in Sandside, said: “It is a good idea, but it is not enough.

“Because the levels are set so low, it means that the supermarkets are still getting away with charging really cheap prices for alcohol.

“We need the levels to be more realistic, and to go further, otherwise there is no way that pubs are going to survive in Scarborough because supermarkets can afford to charge such low prices that the pubs cannot beat.”

Scarborough MP Robert Goodwill has described the plans as a step in the right direction.

He said: “The main problem at the moment is that some supermarkets are selling alcohol below the costs of buying it in, so we should see how it goes and then work out whether it might be necessary to increase the limit.

“Supermarkets that run alcohol as loss leaders to get people through the door is something that many groups have criticised because although the majority of people drink responsibly, there are a few people in our society who do not use alcohol responsibly. Having alcohol available at such bargain basement prices can encourage that irresponsible use.”

He added: “There are lots of other things we need to do as I don’t think the state can take over all the responsibility to prevent binge drinking in teenagers.

“Access to very cheap alcohol in supermarkets is a problem, but it also comes down to parental responsibility. A lot of people under the age of 18 are being bought alcohol by those over 18 and whose parents don’t know what they are doing.”