Councillor defends bid for booze cruise trade

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NORTHUMBERLAND County Council Labour group leader Grant Davey has defended his call for tourism chiefs to try to lure Scottish booze cruisers south of the border.

His call for businesses in the county to seize the opportunity afforded by the Scottish government introducing a 50p-per-unit minimum price for alcohol hit headlines nationally.

County council chiefs are discussing following the Scots’ example by putting up alcohol prices.

However, at a meeting held at Morpeth Town Hall on Monday to discuss such a move, Coun Davey, of Kitty Brewster in Blyth, said that even if they did do likewise, there was no reason why Northumberland should not seek to profit in the meantime.

“For us, it was an economic issue about raising trade and getting more money in the tourism pot as more people from Scotland would be visiting our towns and areas of beauty, similar to people coming from Scandinavia to the north east and going from Dover to France,” he said.

However, he was criticised by Hartley councillor Anita Romer, the authority’s executive member for health and public protection.

She said: “His continued lack of support for what Scotland’s government is doing to tackle the country’s problem with alcohol is seriously irresponsible.

“Alcohol abuse is going to be one of the council’s highest priorities when it takes on the responsibility for public health in Northumberland next year, and minimum pricing of alcohol is one of a number of measures we can implement in order to reduce the harm to individuals and the county as a whole.”

The authority will decide on its response to the government’s consultation about minimum alcohol prices at a full council meeting later this year.