Retailers snubbing Reducing the Strength scheme

12 December, 2014

A local council that is trying to banish beer and cider above 6.5% abv has admitted the scheme is struggling as retailers stand firm and refuse to join.

Newcastle-under-Lyme council convinced eight retailers to join its Reducing the Strength scheme, but said a further eight refused. Another retailer then decided to opt out of the scheme because it was losing business to rivals that had not joined.

The council added that national policies in place at the likes of Tesco and Bargain Booze meant it could not convince those store managers to sign up.

It admitted the efficacy of the scheme was suffering due to certain retailers refusing to join.

When asked if the scheme had been undermined, community safety officer Trevor Smith told OLN it had “to a point, due to the displacement factor”.

He added: “If any troublesome issues are displaced to other off- licences we would revisit those premises armed with evidence, to ask them again to sign up. Also some premises will not sign up due to the local competition not signing up, which makes our task more onerous.”

When asked if he had a message for head office staff at grocers who would not get involved, Smith said: “Please help us to make a stand against the street drinking that blights our communities and the serious health harms which occur from drinking super- strength alcohol.

“It is the cheap, industrial-strength beers and ciders of 6.5% abv and above which have been shown to cause the most damage.

“For example, in many premises a 3-litre bottle of Frosty Jack’s cider retails at around £3.99. This makes it open to abuse from those with a dependency on alcohol as it is cheap and super strong. There is no place for these drinks in our society.

“If the likes of Bargain Booze allowed its local stores to sign up to the project on a 12-month pilot we would have a much clearer picture of its effectiveness.”

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