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Scheme introduced to reduce street drinking

May 21 2009
Waitrose and Tesco agree to stop selling super-strength lager and ciders in some areas A unique voluntary scheme to tackle street drinking has been made top priority by supermarket giants Waitrose and Tesco, who have agreed to stop selling super-strength lager and cider in areas troubled with street drinkers. The initiative, pioneered by Westminster City Council, has been taken up by more than 25 premises in Victoria, Pimlico and Marylebone, and is already proving popular with businesses and residents. Conservative councillor Audrey Lewis said: "This scheme has drastically reduced the number of street drinkers in these areas. While it is by no means a panacea, it is a valuable commonsense tool local authorities can use to help tackle not just street drinking, but also to help improve the quality of life for all residents and visitors. "In Westminster, we can see the problems caused by alcohol. We have responded with tough planning and licensing policies, to the fury of the drinks industry, and have fought off over nearly 400 licensing appeals for later hours," she added. In Marylebone High Street, the voluntary scheme, along with a number of anti-social behaviour orders and a group dispersal zone, halved the number of times police confiscated alcohol from street drinkers each day. Some officers say there is now no need for the dispersal zone. The council surveyed people in nearby Paddington Gardens before and after the start of the Marylebone scheme, and found the number of respondents who said street drinking was a problem had dropped by 35 per cent. "We should be treating the sale of alcohol in the same way we treat tobacco, with all the relevant pricing restraints and health warnings," said Simon Milton, of Westminster City Council.