The Grocer Top 50 independent retailers have slammed the idea that they should accept equal responsibility with pubs and clubs for alcohol abuse.
The government is considering plans to shut down for 48 hours premises that sell booze to underage consumers.
It is also discussing the creation of alcohol disorder zones, in which all licensees will be required to pay an average fee of £100 to help tackle drink-related antisocial behaviour.
But all the respondents to our latest reader panel survey said off-licences should shoulder less of the costs of alcohol-related damage than on-trade premises. “This is just another stealth tax proposed by the government,” said one retailer.
And three quarters felt the off-trade should not be included at all within proposed alcohol disorder zones.
Every retailer taking part in our survey also called for more support from the police to help them deal with difficult customers attempting to purchase alcohol.
“Some support would be nice,” said one, while others were more cynical. “I’d like more support, but we’re not going to get it,” said another.
“Police response times do not allow for this,” was the view of another. Just 17% of the panel
felt alcohol disorder zones were a good idea. Most of these argued they would only support them if they were the sole alternative to a total ban on the outdoor consumption of alcoholic drinks.
However, a third of retailers surveyed said they thought a total ban would be easier to enforce than alcohol disorder zones. That echoes the view of the Association of Chief Police Officers. The Association of Convenience Stores is calling for a ban on drinking in public for similar reasons.
It also argues it would mean off-trade retailers could avoid costs levied at licensees within alcohol disorder zones.
All the retailers responding to our poll said that the shops in their chain had submitted applications for new alcohol licences under changes to licensing regulations. The deadline for applying to renew alcohol premise licences was August 6, but many forms were sent through at the last minute.
Rod Addy
Reader Panel: The Grocer Top 50 Independents