Campaign calling for end to sales of super-strong beer

C140326-1 Worthing Drink  phot kate''Diane Guest, chair of Worthing Pub Watch, Cllr Paul Yallop, leader of Worthing Borough Council, centre and Cllr Vino Vinojan, Centre Ward Councillor with the responsible drinks charter.Picture by Kate Shemilt.C140326-1 SUS-141103-164618001
C140326-1 Worthing Drink phot kate''Diane Guest, chair of Worthing Pub Watch, Cllr Paul Yallop, leader of Worthing Borough Council, centre and Cllr Vino Vinojan, Centre Ward Councillor with the responsible drinks charter.Picture by Kate Shemilt.C140326-1 SUS-141103-164618001
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SHOPKEEPERS have been urged to stop selling super-strength beer and single cans by April in a crackdown on street drinking in Worthing town centre.

The ‘Enough is Enough’ campaign is being led by Heene councillor Diane Guest, who met traders on Monday to gather support for the initiative.

The voluntary scheme draws on similar approaches around the country which have reduced incidents of anti-social behaviour.

Mrs Guest, vice-chairman of Worthing Borough Council’s licensing committee, said: “I would like to think by April 1 that we will be in a position that the majority of the small town centre off licences are in agreement that we do not sell single cans of alcohol and we are not selling beer over 6.5 per cent.

“This is a voluntary scheme. The scheme is in place because we would like to make the town centre a safer environment for residents and businesses alike.

“We are all grown up around the table and are fully aware of the effect the street drinkers have on our community.”

The meeting, at Worthing Town Hall, was attended by around half a dozen traders, councillors and Sussex Police.

While several shopkeepers are already on board with the scheme, others are yet to sign up. Some argued there was a demand for stronger beers from customers who were not causing disruption.

But police and councillors expressed doubts over the extent of the demand.

Sergeant Mike Balmer, of the West Sussex neighbourhood licensing team, said the street drinkers needed super strength alcohol to fuel their dependency.

He pointed to a similar scheme in Ipswich, which had reduced crime and improved general wellbeing.

He said police knew the regular street drinking community and would support traders if problems like shoplifting were an issue.

Council leader Dan Humphreys said: “From my point of view, and this is fact rather than opinion, there is a group of about 20 to 30 people in Worthing who predominently create a public nuisance because they have a drink.

“It is proven that in places like Ipswich that shopkeepers can play a huge part in that by doing things like restricting the sale of super strength beer and not selling single cans.”

A further meeting will be held next month in attempt to gain the support of the remaining traders.