SUPPORT by Prime Minister David Cameron for a minimum alcohol price has been welcomed by the leader of a Hartlepool booze task force.
Mr Cameron is set to overrule his Cabinet colleagues in the Government in order to target cheap alcohol being sold by shops and supermarkets.
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Officials have been ordered to draw up proposals for a 40-50p unit price nationwide.
Hartlepool councillor Jonathan Brash, chairman of the Hartlepool multi-agency Alcohol Strategy Group, has welcomed the idea.
Coun Brash said: “If Mr Cameron has ordered that minimum pricing be looked at nationally then I welcome it because it is the right thing to do.
“I hope he follows through on it because here in Hartlepool we will continue to do everything we can to support the responsible majority in tackling the devastating effects of alcohol abuse.”
The move is expected to cost drinkers an extra £700m a year and the increase in tax could go to the NHS.
Coun Brash said minimum pricing will hit those who binge drink harder than responsible drinkers.
The Hartlepool Mail has previously reported how alcohol is being sold in the area for as little as 12p per unit, particularly when purchased in bulk from supermarkets.
One unit is the equivalent of a measure of spirits, a glass of wine or half a pint of beer, lager or cider.
Coun Brash added: “There can be no doubt about the huge cost that alcohol has on our town and our country, both in the burden it places on our public services and the tax payer, but also the terrible effect of crime and anti-social behaviour with children and older people most at risk.
“Minimum pricing has been shown conclusively to improve health, lower crime and save the responsible tax payer money and it does it all without costing responsible drinkers more than a few pennies.
“The reality locally in Hartlepool is that the cost of alcohol in your pub and club would not change, but the very cheapest alcohol, three litres of cider for just a couple of pounds, would no longer be available.”
He said minimum pricing has the backing of police, charities and the NHS and some politicians.
Three quarters of people who responded to an alcohol survey carried out by the Hartlepool Alcohol Strategy Group earlier this year said they were in favour of introducing a minimum price for alcohol.