Off-licences ban cheap super-strength booze in Islington’s problem areas
15:04 15 July 2014
Shopkeepers have launched a clampdown on street drinkers in the borough by refusing to sell cheap super-strength alcohol.
Violence and crime have reduced outside off-licences since the ban was put in place, business owners have said.
Shops in problem areas targeted by the council – such as Exmouth Market, Spa Fields, King’s Cross, Finsbury Park, Elthorne Park and Nag’s Head – were sent a letter asking them to voluntarily reduce the sale of beer, lager and cider with an alcohol content of 6.5 per cent or more.
Around 65 per cent of the shops are already part of the “reducing the strength” project, with all 12 of the targeted off-licences in Spa Fields and Exmouth Market banning the cheap super-strength booze.
Hafiz Nadeem, who has run Parmar News in Pentonville Road for eight years, said there were fights and muggings outside the shop before he put the ban in place.
“Business is a little down but we’re happy because they were here every day, druggies and drunks from Camden and Islington,” he said.
“A lot of people would come here and stand outside – we used to have fighting outside all the time but that’s not happening anymore.
“People still come but we explain to them that we don’t sell it anymore. They are angry but it doesn’t matter to us.
“It’s much better in the area now, it’s made it much easier for staff as they no longer have to serve the street drinkers and it’s safer for tourists.”
Pamar News is one of 11 off-licences of 15 in King’s Cross which no longer sells super-strength alcohol thanks to the scheme.
The project has been less successful in the Nag’s Head and Seven Sisters Road areas where only 11 of 25 shops which the council wrote to having agreed to take the cheap, potent booze of the shelves.
Cllr Paul Convery, Islington Council’s executive member for community safety, said: “This is just one of many things we’re doing like the late-night levy to make Islington’s town centres and parks a better place for everyone.
“It’s hard to say why some off-licences have decided to decline but I think they will soon realise it’s in their best interests.
“Some of them we’ve been tough on for selling contraband and selling to kids – we’ve been coming down hard, taking away licences, but this is voluntary.
“Taking part in the project will stand them in good stead with the licencing authority. We want to have a positive relationship with as many off-licences as possible.”