Two county councillors have called for an increased focus on irresponsible drinkers – but have stopped short of demanding new laws to tackle the problem.
Cllr Matthew Ellis (Cons, Lichfield Rural East) and Cllr Ben Adams (Cons, Tamworth – Perrycroft) made their comments at a meeting of Staffordshire County Council this week.
And although Cllr Adams – the Cabinet Member for Communities and Culture – told his colleagues that the damage caused by “irresponsible drinking” needed to be a key priority, he added that the County Council would not be seeking any law changes because of the potential damage they could cause to the county’s brewing industry.
Cllr Adams explained:
“Staffordshire County Council must play a leading role in coordinating the fight to reduce the harmful effects of irresponsible drinking. This has a significant impact on health, communities, the use of public money and the local economy. We need to do this in partnership with other public organisations, bringing together our resources and expertise for the maximum impact.
“The damaging effects on our society are wide ranging and that’s why it needs a combined approach. Education, enforcement and protecting people are all essential. This issue affects all ages and so it’s vital that this strategy is effective. However it’s important to stress that we’re talking about alcohol when it becomes a problem. The vast majority of people who drink do so responsibly and we will continue to work with the drinks industry to ensure this continues.”
His views were echoed by the Cabinet Member for Adults and Wellbeing.
Cllr Matthew Ellis (Cons, Lichfield Rural East) said:
“The damage caused by alcohol to society is enormous. Accident departments in hospitals are under immense pressure with people suffering from alcohol related injuries every weekend. There is also the long-term damage to health caused by drinking to excess. There is a cost to this excessive drinking – it is picked up by the taxpayer but also the drinkers and their families who will suffer in the long-run.
“We don’t need a new raft of government legislation to tackle binge drinking, nor do we want to be killjoys. We need the laws we have to be enforced properly, and all authorities to show a joint determination to do this. We have to ensure partners allocate resources to tackle this growing problem.”