Blackpool’s director of public health in bid to make booze more expensive

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Blackpool’s director of public health has made renewed calls for a minimum price for alcohol.

Dr Arif Rajpura told a town hall meeting “cheap alcohol is the scourge of the country and not just Blackpool”.

Dr Arif Rajpura, below, wants a minimum alcohol price

Dr Arif Rajpura, below, wants a minimum alcohol price

He said while Scotland had already introduced a minimum pricing policy and Wales was looking at it, England was “being left behind”.

He told the council’s Adult Social Care and Health Scrutiny Committee: “I have been contacting colleagues across the North West to see if we could do something more local in the absence of a national policy.

“We have looked at by-laws but if we implemented it in Blackpool, it would be quite easy for someone to go into Fylde or Wyre and buy cheap booze. We would create a ‘Calais effect’.

“We need a big enough area which is regional or sub-regional and that means getting a number of authorities round the table to agree it.”

Dr Arif Rajpura, director of public health for Blackpool

Dr Arif Rajpura, director of public health for Blackpool

Dr Rajpura has campaigned for several years to introduce a minimum price for alcohol of 50p per unit but said there was always opposition because of fears the move was unfair to responsible drinkers.

He added: “Moderate drinkers are already drinking stuff that’s 50p per unit.

“It’s the hardened drinkers drinking the cheap stuff.”

He said pubs were already selling alcohol at more expensive prices, but the challenge lay with off-licences.

Dr Rajpura, who was presenting his annual health report to councillors, said: “We would rather people were drinking in a controlled environment than getting drunk at home.”

Drink problem

Dr Rajpura’s annual health report showed Blackpool residents suffer from a higher-than-average rate of alcohol-related illnesses.

Health impact

Alcohol-related hospital admissions are almost double the national rate.