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My View: ADZs to complex to use

Published:  18 January, 2007

Most people are responsible drinkers. But alcohol-related problems - whether in terms of A&E admissions or alcohol-fuelled violence - are growing at an alarming rate.

Alcohol Disorder Zones (ADZs) are the Government's latest solution. ADZs allow local authorities and the police to levy charges on licensed premises within a set area to contribute towards the costs of alcohol-related disorder.

Good in principle - but a bureaucratic nightmare in practice. In fact, ADZs are so complex that many police and local authorities admit they're unlikely to use them.

The Liberal Democrats think there are better ways forward. First, we have to enforce the laws we already have. It's already an offence to sell to a child, to sell to someone who is already drunk, and to permit drunken disorder. But the number of licences revoked and people prosecuted for these offences is shockingly low.

Secondly, local authorities should have the power to vary the cost of licences, enabling them to target rogue premises. Thirdly we have to address the "cheap booze" offers in supermarkets and off-licences in such a way that pubs and restaurants don't lose out.

Our message is clear: most of the industry - and most people - behave responsibly; but when premises and individuals are behaving irresponsibly, it's time to get tough.

Don Foster is the Liberal Democrat MP for Bath