July 23 2014 Latest news:
by Gregor Dickie and Joseph Scrimshire
Friday, April 11, 2014
A state-of-the-art database that maps alcohol-related health and crime data will be used by the town hall to combat the effects of binge drinking.
Islington Council is set to use the digital database to assess licensing applications as part of a crackdown on excessive drinking in the borough.
The new technology coincides with a letter sent out to off-licences in the worst affected parts of Islington, asking them to limit the sale of “super-strength” alcoholic drinks.
When a postcode of a licensed premise is put into the new system, it reveals whether crime, violent crime, ambulance call-outs and alcohol-specific hospital admissions for that area are higher than average, allowing the council to make a representation on planning applications in trouble spot areas.
Cllr Janet Burgess, executive member for health and wellbeing, said: “Tackling health inequality and improving residents’ wellbeing is a key priority – so we are concerned by the rising rates of alcohol-related hospital admissions.
“Islington has a vibrant, busy nightlife, but excessive alcohol consumption contributes to illness and affects the wider community.
“We are working hard to protect residents from the excesses of the night-time economy and help people avoid health risks from excessive drinking.”
Evidence collected in this way has led to 13 licensing applications being turned down and two amended to reduce the hours of sale.
Problem areas identified with this technology in Islington are Nag’s Head, Old Street, Clerkenwell and King’s Cross, all with high numbers of ambulance call-outs.
Shops in these areas also received letters from the council asking them to “work with the council and our partners to voluntarily reduce the availability of high-strength lager, beer, and cider from their premises”.
The town hall is recommending that businesses in the trouble-hit zones introduce an optional condition to their licences, which would severely limit the sale of any drink with 6.5 per cent alcohol or higher, and suggesting a price of £1.95 or above per 500ml.
Mukesh Majithia, who owns Nisa off-licence near Northampton Square, said he supported the council but would not take any action until he had spoken to other businesses.
He said: “There are sometimes alcoholics who buy booze in the shops and drink in the park.
“I agree with any rules that help improve the local area and will go along with the council so long as bigger shops do too.”