COUNCIL chiefs have delivered a scathing assessment of East Staffordshire’s drinking culture, insisting it is having a damaging effect on too many people’s lives.
Bosses are planning to get tough on alcohol misuse in an attempt to stop the problem from spiralling out of control.
Town hall bosses are in the final stages of forming a licensing partnership with other authorities across Staffordshire over what is becoming an increasing concern.
The new plan has been drawn up in response to figures which revealed nearly a third of people in Staffordshire engage in ‘chronic binge drinking’, while nearly 20 per cent are deemed to be at an ‘increasing risk due to drinking alcohol’.
Council chiefs in East Staffordshire said they are keen to tackle what is seen as a dependence on drink not only to improve health, but also to save money.
A report from East Staffordshire Borough Council’s licensing committee said: “People of all generations in Staffordshire are drinking too heavily and too frequently in risky or harmful ways, affecting their own, their family’s and their community’s well being.
“Tackling alcohol misuse has been an identified priority for strategic partners for some time.
“This is not only because treating its effects are so damaging and far-reaching, but also because treating and reacting to them is costly to the public purse.”
The council said the formation of the licensing partnership, to be known as the Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Responsible Bodies Group, would allow authorities from across the county to ‘use their powers’ to tackle the wide-ranging problems caused by alcohol misuse.
However, PC Carl Edwards, town centre officer for Uttoxeter for Staffordshire Police, said that the town does not really have a problem with late night binge drinking from a police perspective.
To help ensure binge drinking does not result in an increase in crime, PC Edwards and his team have enforced a Safer Nights campaign on Friday and Saturday nights which sees officers assigned to the town centre and work well with the pub landlords.
A Pubwatch scheme sees him meeting with landlords every six weeks to discuss any issues they may be having, adding there has been the odd banning order issued to potential trouble-makers.
Officers also carry out regular drug swaps in all of the pubs.
He said: “We only have one nightclub in the town that is open to 3am and once it closes that is it for Uttoxeter.
“All the pubs close at 1am.
“It is completely different here than when I was up north in Hanley as the clubs were open to 4am.
“It is also a good thing in Uttoxeter that the food outlets close before the club as it helps us as when people come out the club they just have to get in a taxi and go home.
“Everyone does a pretty good job in the town and it is not that bigger issue.”