Pubs and shops face tougher scrutiny in crackdown on heavy drinking

More stringent reviews are being made of alcohol licence applications in a bid to reduce heavy drink

More stringent reviews are being made of alcohol licence applications in a bid to reduce heavy drinking in town centres. Picture: Getty Images/Vitaliiy Pestov - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Pubs and off licences in Suffolk could face tougher scrutiny over the sale of alcohol in a bid to tackle heavy drinking hotspots.

Public Health Suffolk has already reviewed 81 applications between January and May this year for selling booze in the county as part of a bid for more stringent checks on changes that could lead to anti-social behaviour in the surrounding area.

It will also look more closely at data such as alcohol-related hospital admissions in the area and the level of crime when deciding on the hours shops and pubs sell alcohol.

It has particular concerns about alcohol-related problems in Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and Newmarket - disputing four applications to sell alcohol in Ipswich so far this year.

Two of those were refused as a result of their objections, with the others approved but with tougher conditions attached.

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Applications for these licences are made to the local licensing authorities, the District or Borough Councils for that area. The responsibility of granting the license sits with the licensing panels of the respective authority however, Public Health Suffolk can give evidence which assists those decisions.

James Reeder, cabinet member for public health and prevention at Suffolk County Council, said: "It's important that the impact on local people is considered in any variation to existing licence or new licence application.

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"The majority of people enjoy alcohol responsibly, however it does have the potential to cause harm when used inappropriately.

"The role of the Public Health Team in Suffolk is to ensure that the health of people living nearby to premises selling alcohol is given proper consideration, using the best available data and evidence as part of the licensing process."

Ruth Croft, youth and engagement manager at Turning Point - a charity which helps people with addictions in Suffolk - said: "One of the difficult things about drinking too much alcohol is that it is so easily accessible.

"You can go to the supermarket for a loaf of bread and come out with a can of larger.

"Restricting the access to alcohol, or reducing the number of pubs or bars which can lead to anti social behaviour will hopefully help reduce the amount of alcohol drank in the areas identified."

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