Emergency meeting will discuss blight of alcohol in Islington

An emergency summit of experts has been called to tackle Islington’s reputation as the worst area in London for problem drinking.

Public health officials, councillors, GPs, police, alcoholics, carers and publicans will meet tomorrow (Friday) to discuss ways to reduce the drinking which blights the borough.

Islington currently has the second highest number of alcohol-related health problems, the second highest amount of drink-related crime and disorder, and the second highest number of licensed premises per head in the whole of London.

The summit, the first of its kind in the borough, was announced at a meeting of Islington Town Hall’s ruling executive last week, when it also approved plans to introduce a late-night levy of up to �4,500 a year on premises trading after midnight.

If the scheme is passed by the full council in October, the cash generated would be used for extra policing and cleaning up.

Cllr Paul Convery, Islington Council’s executive member for community safety, said: “In this borough we have a serious problem with excessive drinking.

“We are second in all these categories, but there are different boroughs in first each time, so we are consistently right at the top. It’s not that we have got worse, but other boroughs have got a lot better.

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“I don’t want to be a killjoy or a nimbyist – I used to enjoy a drink myself – but the balance in this borough is wrong and it is damaging the enjoyment of others.”

Apart from the summit and the levy, the executive agreed two further policies to curb drunkeness in Islington:

- A rewrite of the borough’s licensing policy to strengthen control over the number, type, location and hours of premises.

- Toughening up the way the licensing panel grant permission to sell alcohol.

If approved by the full council, the changes could be in operation from the start of next year.