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Superstrength booze ban bid at three off-licences in Hastings
A council is set become the first in the county to bring in a ban on superstrength alcohol.
Hastings Borough Council is calling on off-licences in three areas of the town to voluntarily change their licences, effectively banning themselves from stocking high-strength beer, lager and cider.
The decision was made this week and follows a petition by residents calling for a crackdown on the sale of superstrength alcohol to street drinkers.
Under the new agreement, all new off-licences opening in the town will only be able to open if they agree to a condition banning the sale of heavy duty beers, lagers and ciders over 6.5 per cent.
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Councillors said they had looked at similar bans introduced in other towns and cities around the country but have decided to take the initiative a step further.
A ban in Ipswich introduced last September has seen street drinker incidents halved.
To encourage off-licences to fall in line, Hastings Borough Council is waiving the regular fee of £89 for an amendment of a licence.
The ban in the town centre, the Old Town and Central St Leonards areas, will launch on October 18.
The anonymous resident who organised the campaign said the petition was started because the community could no longer put up with street drinkers fighting in the street, open drug dealing and obscenities shouted in the street.
He said: “This is a good, positive step forward and we will see what happens come October.
It might just mean that street drinkers get drunk on low-strength alcohol.
“We just hope that the message will get through to offlicences that we are fed up with them selling alcohol to people who are obviously drunk and that street drinkers need to think about themselves as part of the community.”
Councillor Jay Kramer, lead member for community safety, said: “We hope that all offlicences in these areas will agree to work with us and stop selling strong alcohol. If they don’t, and they become the focus for antisocial behaviour or street drinking activity, we will gather evidence that will support a review of that premise’s licence.
“We are absolutely determined to continue our robust stand on dealing with street drinking and alcohol-related crime and make Hastings an even better place to live, work and visit.”
A Brighton and Hove City Council spokeswoman said the authority already has a voluntary arrangement with over 50 retailers across the city, all of whom have agreed not to sell super-strength alcohol.
In 2011 the council extended their designated cumulative impact zone and special stress area, designed to prevent too many licensed premises operating in a particular area.
She added: "We are currently working with Trading Standards on a city-wide campaign, Sensible on Strength, to not only remove high strength beers, lagers and ciders over 6% proof from our shops, but also to encourage other positive practices, such as implementing CCTV, staff training and a ‘Challenge 25’ policy that will ultimately reduce alcohol related harm and anti-social behaviour.”
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