Posted: Thu 21st Oct 2021

Wrexham pub landlord calls for closer scrutiny of supermarket alcohol sales for people living in or visiting the wrexham area

A Wrexham pub landlord has called for the impact of alcohol sales in supermarkets and shops to be placed under closer scrutiny.

It follows claims that alcohol being sold in off-licence outlets has led to a rise in underage drinking, drink driving and littering in the area.

David Metcalfe, who runs the Holly Bush Inn in Cefn Mawr, made his comments in response to a review of Wrexham Council’s licensing policy, which he said was “somewhat out of date”.

He has asked for more focus to be given to the impact on the environment after highlighting the amount of beer cans and bottles dumped at the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct World Heritage Site.

He also cited the “very limited” section on alcohol sales in shops in the local authority’s policy and urged it to consider the effect on public safety and children’s health.

In his response to the consultation, Mr Metcalfe said: “Off sales are now responsible for the majority of alcohol sales in the UK, and this practice is contributing significantly to the destruction of our environment, either through litter or the recycling of hundreds of thousands of tons of glass and aluminium every year.

“This needs to be addressed and taken into hand rather than ignored as at present. The policy recognises some of the problems being caused by off sales, but only part of the problem.

“Underage drinking is out of control and is fuelled from supermarkets and retail chains, and the same is true for drink driving.

“The evidence of this is clearly seen all over our community and countryside and it is about time correction was made.

“I fail to see how piles of beer cans and bottles can contribute to the amenity value of a World Heritage Site.”

Figures shared by Public Health Wales (PHW) show more than a fifth of adults in Wrexham drink above the recommended weekly amount of 14 units of alcohol.

In 2019/20, there were approximately 357 hospital admissions per 100,000 of Wrexham’s population as a direct consequence of alcohol consumption.

Alcohol was also flagged as having a wider causal impact in around 1,767 admissions.

PHW has called for the council to include information in its policy regarding the impact of people “pre-loading” on alcohol at home before they go out to the pub.

A proposed amendment put forward by health officials states: “Most common in younger age groups, binge drinking is often associated with ‘pre-loading’.

“Pre-loading is a term that relates to people, particularly young people, drinking alcohol at home or in streets before going on to pubs and clubs.

“It has been associated with higher overall alcohol consumption and a greater likelihood of being involved in a violent incident.

“People pre-load on alcohol because it’s much cheaper to buy in the supermarket or other off licence than in a pub or bar.”

Wrexham Council is currently working with Wrexham Maelor Hospital, North Wales Police, the Welsh Ambulance Service and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board to improve the collection of data on alcohol consumption.

PHW said the pilot scheme would “assist greatly” in targeting enforcement action where it is required.

The review of the council’s policy will be considered by councillors at a meeting of its licensing committee on Monday, October 25.

By Liam Randall – BBC Local Democracy Reporter

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