Pubs call for high hike in booze costs

OWNERS of a North Shields pub have joined a campaign calling for more support for local pubs.

Jess and Alison McConnell, who own the Magnesia Bank, have, along with a number of other establishments in the region, called for the government to take more action on cheap supermarket alcohol.

A recent study revealed half of the region’s landlords said their profits had fallen in the last year.

Research by Balance, the north east alcohol office, identified the sale of cheap supermarket alcohol as a key reason for declining trade.

As the government launches a ten-week consultation into a minimum price of 45p per unit, the landlords have written to business and enterprise minister Michael Fallon to consider making it 50p a unit.

Jess said: “Not only are these prices diverting our trade and damaging our livelihood, they mean that people are rolling into town drunk, posing a greater risk to themselves and others, including our staff who are legally prevented from serving anyone who has drunk too much.

“The government has an ideal opportunity to protect small business by closing the huge price gap that exists between supermarkets and community pubs.

“If they are serious about protecting us, we need a minimum unit price of at least 50p, which will have a meaningful impact on cheap supermarket alcohol, while having no effect on pub prices.”

Colin Shevills, director of Balance, said: “It’s no surprise that alcohol sold at pocket money prices is having a major impact on the livelihoods of those working in the region’s pub trade.

“The introduction of a minimum unit price of at least 50p per unit of alcohol would help level the playing field by closing the price gap between pubs and supermarkets.”