Town to tackle binge drinking

A town that has been blighted by a surge in drunken violence is set to clamp down on bars which sell cheap booze.

Oldham has seen a 200 per cent increase in serious violent incidents in the first four months of this year.

According to the BBC’s Panorama team, that equates to a stabbing or an assault with intention to kill on average every Friday and Saturday night.

Council chiefs have responded by imposing tough new rules on pubs and clubs which sell alcoholic drinks for less than 75p per unit (about £1.88 for a strong pint of lager).

“It’s about trying to get people to drink in moderation. We are trying to work with the law and we are trying to work with the licensees,” councillor Mark Alcock told the BBC.

Customers wanting to buy a drink from the bar must wait in a roped-off post-office-style queue.

When at the bar, they can only order two drinks at a time. Establishments may be forced to hire more bouncers or pay for police officers to watch the bar.

Tony Allen, Oldham’s licensing officer, said: “The price of alcohol became so cheap that it was attracting people who didn’t have a lot of money to spend.

“That type of clientele was attracted to the town and that, we think, led to more violence and more issues concerning that over-consumption.”

One Oldham resident told of the “frightening” environment on the main street in Oldham.

In Edinburgh, a ban is going to be put into place on irresponsible drinks offers from next month.

Some pubs have already stopped the alcohol deals, and reports say there has been a 20% reduction in violent crime in the city.

In April, the president of the Royal College of Surgeons, Professor Ian Gilmore, told MPs that the number of alcohol-induced deaths was much higher than the official figure of 8,000.

He said that up to 40,000 deaths a year are caused by alcohol, including deaths from cancers, high blood pressure which leads to strokes and heart attacks, and violence.

Prof Gilmore said the Department of Health’s strategy to reduce harm from alcohol had been derailed by the Home Office’s 24-hour drinking laws which were introduced at the same time.

He said: “It was in my view unfortunate that the plan coincided with a change in licensing laws which made it easier for places to stay open longer, and made it more difficult to turn down applications for licences, with no need to take public health into account.”

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