Booze battle staggers on

Northumberland County Council has stressed that it is not planning to promote cheap alcohol to Scottish citizens as the battle over ‘booze tourists’ rumbles on.

There was controversy last week after the council’s Labour group suggested that the county should promote itself as a destination for cheap alcohol when minimum pricing laws come into force in Scotland next April.

The statement was branded ‘irresponsible’ by critics.

But Gareth Bateman, of Alnwick off-license Wine Boutique at 17, said that an increase in business from Scottish visitors was highly unlikely anyway.

“The way current petrol and diesel prices are, it’s pointless people travelling from north of the border as far south as Berwick,” he said.

“By the time they’ve made a 100-mile round trip, it’s going to be overruled by the cost of the fuel.”

Places ‘within spitting distance’ of the border might benefit, but only the biggest buyers – and potentially illegal resellers – would bother to make the trip, he added.

The county council has organised a public meeting to discuss the merits of minumum unit pricing, to be held at Morpeth Town Hall at 6pm on September 17. It is expected that police officers, health representatives and medical professionals will attend.