Residents urged to join the ‘Big Alcohol Conversation’

RESIDENTS are being asked to contribute to the ‘Big Alcohol Conversation’.

It comes after the public learned of some worrying statistics at the inaugural meeting of the East Strategic Neighbourhood Forum.

Debbie Watson, assistant director of population health, wants public participation, saying “it is an opportunity to contribute, get ideas and solutions”.

The Big Alcohol Conversation covers the whole of Greater Manchester and runs from November 15 until February.

Apart from individuals contributing, the organisers will be engaging with 8,000 organisations from within Greater Manchester.

Debbie explained that alcohol-related admissions to A&E for Tameside were the second highest of the Greater Manchester boroughs and 50 per-cent higher than the average.

She added there were more than 45,000 children in Greater Manchester who live with a parent who is a binge drinker and more than 33,000 with somebody who is dependent on alcohol use.

Debbie explained there were 11,481 “high risk drinkers” in Tameside and a further 34,802 who are “increasing risk drinkers”.

She added it was not simply about alcohol but the way people lead their lives, adding quitting smoking and alcohol improves health.

“There is a cost benefit to the NHS compared to a life of ill health. We find when people reach 58 they start to experience ill health and we want them to have a good quality of life,” Debbie continued.

Cllr David Sweeton, who earlier this year became chair of Tameside Council’s speakers’ panel for liquor licensing, explained tackling alcohol issues in the borough is a priority.

He is working towards having a “cumulative impact policy” so planners can refuse an application on the grounds there are too many bars, pubs or clubs in an area.

Cllr Sweeton added he is hoping a policy will be in place within the next 12 to 24 months.

Local campaigner Paul Broadhurst called for a more stringent approach explaining there were too many places selling alcohol.

And Stalybridge trader Lee Stafford added there was a need to prevent pocket money alcohol.

He pointed out when he has been on clean ups in the town he has filled bin bags with quarter and half bottles of vodka, never full ones, that suggests they were bought by youngsters.

• You can get involved with the ‘Big Alcohol Conversation’ online. Look out for the details in next month’s Correspondent.

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