Posts Tagged 'brighton and hove'

Plans to crack down on cheap alcohol are controversial but necessary

I warmly welcome the announcement by the Home Secretary at this week’s Conservative Party Conference that supermarkets and other shops are to be banned from selling alcohol at below cost price.

I know that this is a controversial issue because the vast majority of people will drink moderately and sensibly and nobody wants to see them penalised. But we have to face up to the fact that a small minority of people are intent on drinking to excess and I have no doubt that cheap offers in both shops and pubs/clubs have a lot to do with this. We simply cannot go on ignoring the impact that this has on the decent law-abiding majority of people through things like increased policing and health costs and widespread anti-social behaviour. Giving councils the power to charge pubs and clubs a fee if they want to stay open late should also help in particular with the policing costs.

Theresa May also announced much-needed changes to Labour’s 2003 Licensing regime which ushered in 24 hour drinking. These changes open up the possibility of pubs and clubs being banned from late-night opening if there is a detrimental impact of drunkenness and noise on the wider community. At the moment, the public can only object to opening hour extensions or new licensing applications if they are neighbours of the premises but that will now be changed to include anyone in the locality who is affected. Venues may also be refused a licence if local residents believe there are too many existing premises and their neighbourhoods are being damaged.

Although we have a Cumulative Impact Zone in the centre of Brighton, the odds are still very much stacked against councils and residents when it comes to opposing applications to extend licenses or to grant new ones. These proposals, if implemented, should help to swing the scales back the other way to the benefit of local communities. I’m also pleased that the maximum fine for persistently selling alcohol to a minor will be doubled to £20,000. Unscrupulous retailers must be made to understand the wider consequences to the community of their actions.

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Wear your poppy with pride

poppiesThis is always a special time of year for me as we collectively remember those brave men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice to secure our freedom and democracy. But it is even more poignant when we are embroiled in a bitter war in Afghanistan. The shooting dead of five soldiers yesterday was a stark reminder of what is at stake and illustrates just how important it is that we give our troops all the support they need in what are incredibly trying conditions. What I’m sure they don’t want to hear is elected politicians undermining their efforts by describing them as a “misadventure” and a “farce” as my fellow Councillor – Ben Duncan of the Green Party has done over on his blog.

For Remembrance Day and this year I am really looking forward to attending an event at Whitehawk Primary School. This means a great deal to me because this is the school where I first met Henry Allingham for last year’s Remembrance Day. It is very sad that Henry has since passed away but I’m sure his memory will live on for all the young children who met him that day, as it has for me.

Finally, I would just like to say how relieved I am that Gordon Brown has performed a u-turn on the proposed funding cuts to the Territorial Army. I visited the barracks in Dyke Road a couple of weeks ago with the Mayor – Ann Norman – and they impressed upon us the seriousness of the proposed cuts. As I said above, at a time when we are fighting a war, all parts of the armed forces must be given all the support they need. As with the recent Gurkhas issue, the Government’s timing on this was poor to say the least.


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