Minimum alcohol price 'won't curb boozing'
THE Government's plans to place a minimum price on alcohol will have little impact on binge drinking, a leading publican says.
Mick McDonnell, chairman of Plymouth Best Bar None, which upholds standards in the drinks industry, said the coalition's desire to slap a 45p per unit tag on beers and spirits will not bring about cultural change.
And another well-known Plymouth publican, Tam Macpherson, has said legislators would be better off looking at limiting the amount of alcohol consumers can purchase – and wants single beer buying stopped in the off-trade.
The Government is consulting on its minimum pricing plan until February 6.
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Under the proposals supermarkets will be banned from offering "buy one, get one free" deals and the 45p minimum would mean the lowest price for a can of beer would be about £1.12 and £4.40 for a bottle of wine.
Mr McDonnell said the proposals would only affect the off-trade, because pubs and clubs already sell at prices above that proposed minimum.
But he added: "I do not think it will do that much to change the culture we are in.
"You can buy a bottle of wine in Spain for £1.50 and they don't have the same issues we have on our streets.
"It's a cultural issue rather than a cost issue. People go out now to get drunk rather than to have a drink."
Critics of the Government's plans have said a minimum price will penalise moderate drinkers, and Mr McDonnell said: "Everyone will be effected by the small minority who cause a problem."
Mr McDonnell, who has run the Mount Pleasant pub in Millbay for 12 years, feels a 45p-per-unit level will do little to boost pub sales, or even damage supermarket trade, where cheaper products will still be available.
"I don't think it will effect sales in supermarkets," he said.
Mr Macpherson, who runs Union Street's Clipper Inn and is a former chairman of Stakeholders in Hospitality Licensed Retail, said Plymouth has an opportunity to debate the "wider impact of alcohol and its sales patterns" during consultations on minimum pricing and the up-coming early morning restriction orders and late night levy.
He said the city could introduce, via a by-law, a minimum four can/bottle purchase from off-sales.
He said this would deter street drinkers and teenagers, who often only have enough cash to buy single cans or bottles.
"We need to consider the impact of supermarket single can or bottle purchases on the streets," he said.
"Best practice and responsible retail must be acknowledged but there should be further consideration of the four-can approach rather that single can purchases."