Bottoms up! Alcohol and the ‘inclusive town centre’

by Jayne Glass

MSPs in the Scottish Parliament have voted for the Alcohol Bill which sets out steps for tackling Scotland’s alcohol-related violence and health problems.   Measures in the Bill include: banning drink promotions, raising the age for buying alcohol, and bringing in a “social responsibility fee” for retailers who choose to sell alcohol.  Research by York University recently found that alcohol misuse in Scotland costs taxpayers between £2.4bn and £4.6bn a year.

An article written in 2008 in Area by Adam Eldridge and Marion Roberts reflects on the Licensing Act (2003) that was enacted in England and Wales for similar reasons: to address concerns about ‘binge Britain’ and violence in town centres caused by ‘social drinkers’.  Eldridge and Roberts consider how urban centres might be made ‘more inclusive’ at night in order to address these problems.  Based on the results of 23 focus groups that they ran with alcohol consumers in five towns/cities in England, their findings suggest that it is not alcohol consumption that affects a person’s sense of belonging to a town centre.  Instead, concerns about transport, security and crime were more prevalent and further analysis revealed that it is not a simple task to identify a ‘civilised social drinker’ from a ‘young urban savage’.

Read about the Scottish Alcohol Bill on the BBC News website.

Read Eldridge, A. and Roberts, M. (2008) A comfortable night out? Alcohol, drunkenness and inclusive town centres. Area, 40(3), 365-374.

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