Pubs rejoice in booze pricing

Ron Fitzpatrick is Landlord of the Dog and Partridge, Friargate
Ron Fitzpatrick is Landlord of the Dog and Partridge, Friargate
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Publicans have welcomed proposals to introduce a minimum price for a unit of alcohol.

And they say that it could see a reduction in binge drinking, especially among young people.

The proposals, which have been backed by David Cameron, could follow the Scottish lead, banning alcohol sales below 45p per unit.

Ronnie Fitzpatrick, landlord of the Dog and Partridge on Friargate, Preston, said it might also encourage more people to use their local pub.

He said: “I’ve been here for years and I used to see students passing here at about eight or nine o’clock on their way for a night out.

“Now they’re wandering past at 11.30pm or midnight and have obviously had a few drinks.

“They’re not drunk, but they’ve probably been drinking a few cans from the supermarket round at someone’s flat before they go out.”

Ronnie, who was chairman of Preston and South Ribble Licensed Victuallers Association until its closure last year, said he thought that the low prices on alcohol offered by some supermarkets were to blame for a lot of binge drinking.

He said: “Sometimes you can buy a pack of 24 bottles of Budweiser for about £10 in the supermarket.

“It would cost me £24 from my wholesaler for the same product in bottles that are just 30 ml bigger.”

He believed that a hike in the price of supermarket booze might also encourage more people to spend their money in pubs, giving a boost to those that had managed to survive the recession.

Last year saw an average of 25 pubs closing every week as job cuts and wage freezes hit home.

Ronnie said the knock-on effect of having to drink in a pub rather than in private might also encourage more sensible drinking.

He said: “If you’re a landlord or tenant you have to control what your customers drink to some extent.

“None of us want people falling down drunk, swearing and behaving badly.”

Denis MacKeen, holding manager of The Running Pump at Catforth, said: “I’m all for these proposals. A minimum price might discourage young people from drinking so much.

“They just go to the supermarket and buy a load of cans of cheap cider. You can’t blame pubs for drunkenness.”

“Some of the pubs in town still have offers, but I know that’s being discouraged now.”

In May 2010 Tesco backed a ban on below-cost selling of alcohol following a poll showing that more than half of its customers believed problem drinking was related to cheap alcohol.