Sunday, 14 February 2010

Plaid : minimum alcohol price to save the traditional pub

Pubs in the area are facing a crisis, and Plaid Cymru’s Clwyd West candidate Llyr Huws Gruffydd and North Wales AM Janet Ryder believe that strong action is needed. They say that minimum pricing on alcohol should be introduced to save traditional local pubs, and are seeking the views of local publicans.

The politicians want to see the introduction of minimum pricing on alcohol to help traditional pubs in their battle against cheap supermarket offers. As well as helping the troubled pub industry, they feel that raising the price of cheap alcohol would help deter youngsters from binge drinking and help reduce crime levels.

Ruthin-based Llyr, who will be the Plaid candidate in the forthcoming Westminster election, said today:

“Many local landlords have been raising their concerns about the difficulties they’re facing as they fight to compete with the low alcohol prices in supermarkets.

“Over the next few weeks, we will be contacting operators of licensed premises in Ruthin, Colwyn Bay, Abergele and other parts of the constituency, asking if they’d like to see the introduction of minimum pricing on alcohol."

Plaid has welcomed recommendations in a recent report by the House of Commons Health Committee to introduce a minimum price for alcohol. Other recommendations included restrictions on advertising visible to children and a ban on alcohol ads on social networking websites.

Llyr continued:

"There is very strong evidence from the British Medical Association, amongst others, that introducing a minimum price on alcohol can make a real difference in tackling the binge drinking culture.

“The current culture of low prices in supermarkets is also very bad for many of the pubs in our communities, who can’t compete on prices, and who often find themselves in a situation where customers will have had a lot to drink before they arrive. Responsible landlords might even be in a position of feeling that they can’t serve them.

“I’m seeking the views of people in pub businesses in the area to find out their views on a minimum price for alcohol, and other steps that they’d like to see government in Cardiff or London taking to support their businesses.

“The local pub is an integral part of our community and we’ve lost too many of them in recent years. I want to see what we can do to support the pubs that we have here, and to help ensure that they have a prosperous future.”

There has been concern about worryingly high levels of alcoholism across Wales as people tend to drink more on their own at home as well as buying much stronger drinks than they would have perhaps done in the past. Cheap vodka is readily available from supermarkets and the low cost encourages people to drink much more as they 'frontload' or drink before going out for the evening.

Janet Ryder AM added

“Neighbourhood pubs can play a very important role in helping people drink responsibly because they are about more than just drinking. They are places for people of all ages to meet, and for older people in particular they offer company.

“With so many pubs across north Wales facing difficult times, we want to be able to offer them practical help.”

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