Minister steps in on strength issue

04 April, 2014

The minister for consumer affairs has promised to seek legal clarity for retailers who could be breaching competition law by stripping shelves of beers and ciders of a certain abv under Reducing the Strength schemes.

OLN has urged government to clarify its position as part of its United to Protect Choice campaign.

Jenny Willott MP has now outlined how she intends to tackle the issue.

In a letter to British Beer & Pub Association chief executive Brigid Simmons, Willott said that her officials would work with the Home Office and the Office of Fair Trading.

She said that she intends “to investigate options for increasing legal certainty for retailers in areas where restrictions on the sale of certain types of alcohol are necessary to reduce crime and antisocial behaviour.”

Willott said she supports “the light-touch approach taken by certain police forces and local authorities who clearly realise that voluntary agreements are preferable in the long-term to onerous, long-standing licence conditions”.

But she noted the trade’s concerns that the schemes punish premium products that are not associated with alcohol abuse and antisocial behaviour.

Simmons said: “There is no firm evidence that these bans are effective, and there are serious questions over their legality.”

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