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Now it's time for solutions

Published:  18 January, 2007

There was plenty of bad news for the industry in last week's Budget and you know the really worrying thing? It could get worse.

Time will tell what evidence that study produces, although if price were the issue you might expect a bit more trouble in Madrid on a Friday night and rather less in Manchester.

What's worrying is the Chancellor appears to have decided already - not just the whopping increase in duty this year but inflation-busting rises for the next four years - but the anti-alcohol lobby will come back for more and more.

Make no mistake: the industry is facing an onslaught from campaigners, the more extreme of whom will not be satisfied until they have closed businesses and denied millions the pleasure of a drink.

So we need to stick together as an industry. That means understanding an attack on any section of the industry is bad news for all of us - producers, wholesalers and retailers. Second, we need to provide some solutions. That means suggesting practical initiatives that can make a difference. If the industry doesn't like the proposed government solutions for tackling alcohol misuse, then we need to identify alternative solutions. The challenge is to propose measures that can win the support of all.

Jeremy Beadles is chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association