Call to Tackle Harm of Passive Drinking; 'Communities Need Greater Licensing Say'

Article excerpt

Byline: Wesley Johnson

THE Government must tackle the damaging effects of "passive drinking" and give communities greater influence over licensing laws, campaigners said today. Too many areas are "plagued by shouting, vomiting, fights, urination and other rowdy behaviour" and lax licensing controls must be reformed in favour of simpler laws which give communities greater influence, they said. The call comes as the Home Office considers plans to overhaul licensing laws in a bid to crack down on binge drinking and tackle alcohol-related crime and disorder which costs the taxpayer up to pounds 13bn each year.

Campaign group Open All Hours?, a network of civic societies and residents groups, the Civic Voice charity and the Institute of Alcohol Studies all called for the licensing law to be tougher.

Matthew Bennett, chairman of the Open All Hours? network, said: "The coalition Government needs to ditch lax licensing controls which marginalise the community voice and support businesses that promote a responsible drinking culture.

"We all deserve vibrant, well-managed and successful town and city centres which everyone can enjoy."

He added that the Government needed to address "growing public concern about the impacts of stress and disturbance from irresponsible drinking on public health".

"Too many of our streets and town and city centres are plagued by shouting, vomiting, fights, urination and other rowdy behaviour," he said. …