Labours u-turn on code to tackle binge drinking games
Friday, December 25th, 2009
The government have decided to shelve plans to ban pubs and clubs from offering cheap alcohol, even thought the Prime Minister has said that such a move was necessary in order to tackle binge drinking.
Labour had planned to introduce a new compulsory code that would ban ‘irresponsible’ alcohol promotions, such as offers of unlimited alcohol for a set price, free alcohol for women and drinking games, before the next general election, which expected in May 2010.
Gordon Brown made his pledge in May as part of a speech about crime. He said: “We are going to bring in a new mandatory code on the sale of alcohol – not, as some have asked, bringing in a minimum price, which would punish the majority of responsible drinkers – but to tackle binge drinking, targeting the kind of promotions like ‘Drink all you can for a fiver’, which can turn some town centres into no-go areas,”
However, sources from Whitehall have revealed that the new policies will not be introduced before the next election after opposition from the drinks industry and conflict within government. The Treasury and Peter Mandelson have raised concerns about the introduction of a new code as it could be a financial blow to pubs, which have already been affected by the recession.
Supporter of the move, home secretary Alan Johnson, has accepted that the new code, which is still in draft form, will not be introduced in the near future as Labour will now turn their attention to their election campaign.
The new code was to put five new conditions on the licences of premises that sell alcohol. They included:
• Banning ‘irresponsible promotions’ that encourage the consumption of large quantities of alcohol that could increase the chances of alcohol-related crime, public nuisance and cause risk to the public safety
• Banning alcohol being poured directly into a customers mouth
• Guarantee that smaller measures of alcohol were available
• Ensure that free tap water is available.
Public health campaigners have expressed that they have little confidence that the new code would be introduced even thought the Policing and Crime Act was introduced last month which gives ministers the power to introduce the code.
Professor Alan Maryon-Davis, president of the Faculty of Public Health, which represents public health specialists working in the NHS and local councils, said: “We think there’s a risk this initiative could get lost in the pre-election clearing of the decks and never see the light of day,”