Cut hours and raise prices says watchdog

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BOSSES at a booze watchdog have welcomed calls for a 2am closure across the board.

Colin Shevills, director of Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, said he agrees with Mayor Stuart Drummond and also hopes the Government’s alcohol strategy will help prevent the sale of booze at “pocket-money” prices.

Plans to introduce a minimum price per unit of alcohol were revealed last week.

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Mr Shevills said: “There has been a shift in drinking habits and people are now going out into our town centres later in the evenings, having pre-loaded at home on cheap supermarket booze.

“This has resulted in more pubs and clubs utilising late licenses and in some instances staying open until 4am.

“I agree with the Mayor that changes need to be made and we hope that the Government’s alcohol strategy is a major step forward in addressing this.

“For too long alcohol has been too affordable, too available and too heavily promoted.

“However, the introduction of a minimum price per unit should prevent the sale of alcohol at pocket money prices such as white cider, which is currently available for as little as 12p per unit, or £1.34 for two litres.

“The aim is that fewer people will then pre-load on cheap, strong alcohol before a night out.

“The banning of multi-buy discount deals on alcohol should also make a huge difference.

“It is already proving a success with research showing that alcohol sales in Scotland have fallen since the introduction of a ban in October.

“The impact of this, and a number of other measures, would be a reduced need for pubs and clubs to stay open as late as they are – relieving town centre and communities of alcohol-related accidents, violence and disruption.”