Minimum alcohol price call

PLANS to introduce a minimum price for booze have been backed by 70 to 80 per cent of people quizzed on the issue in Hartlepool.

More than 550 residents have responded to a consultation gathering views on whether they think a minimum price per unit of alcohol should be introduced.

And it follows increasing levels of alcohol-related crime in the town with 43 per cent of arrests in Hartlepool being alcohol-related. An increasing number of people are all falling ill or dying as a result of drink-related illnesses, with hospital admissions doubling over the last 15 years.

Labour councillor Jonathan Brash, chairman of the Hartlepool Alcohol Strategy Group – a multi-agency group set up to tackle alcohol misuse – said: “There are very likely to be legal hurdles and people still have the chance to air their views on whether it’s going to be the right thing for the town.

“Police and medical professionals are in favour, and the public seem to be in favour, and that’s a good start.

“There’s a strong motivation to do something about it.”

Coun Brash, Burn Valley Labour councillor on Hartlepool Borough Council, said if there was a minimum price of 50p per unit the majority of people would pay just pennies more, but for those who drink dangerously it would force them to drink less.

In Hartlepool and other parts of the North-East, alcohol is being sold for as little as 12p per unit, particularly when purchased in volume 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.

l It’s your vote: Page 9