Health damage caused by alcohol prompts move to curb drink licences

It is getting harder to sell alcohol – unless perhaps you are a late-night takeaway

Like most places, Dundee has a problem with alcohol; though the problem in the Tayside city is worse than most because it has one of Scotland’s worst death figures due to drink.

Like most places, Dundee has a problem with alcohol; though the problem in the Tayside city is worse than most because it has one of Scotland’s worst death figures due to drink.


Four out of every five people who turn up at Dundee’s Ninewells Hospital between 11pm and 4am every night are drunk, or have suffered injury at the hands of someone drunk.

Like most places, Dundee has a problem with alcohol; though the problem in the Tayside city is worse than most because it has one of Scotland’s worst death figures due to drink.

Five hundred of the patients dealt with by Ninewells suffered from “acute intoxication“; while the quantities drunk by a similar number amounted to harmful use. Nearly 350 patients had liver disease.

Throughout Tayside, the hospitals there dealt with nearly 2,000 alcohol-related cases in 2012/2013, though the numbers actually mark a fall on previous years.

Over the last five years, the number of shops in Dundee given permission to sell drink as off-licences has jumped by just under a quarter, while pub licences rose by one-seventh.

Now, however, Dundee City Council is taking direct action to stem the tide: no new licences will be issued unless applicants can prove they will not add to the problem.

Drink-related illness

The decision by councillors this week was prompted by Dundee’s Alcohol and Drug Partnership, which warned in January that a surfeit of licences is taking a toll on the city’s health.

Increased numbers of places selling drink inevitably leads to greater consumption, they were told by NHS Tayside’s director of public health, Dr Drew Walker.

Four years ago, the alcohol and drugs partnership tried to put a financial cost on the problem of alcohol, coming up with a figure of just under £500 for each Dundonian.

The decision to impose a ban – except for those licences required for the Victoria & Albert Museum on the waterfront when it opens in 2017 – is a reversal of past policy.

Three years ago, Dundee City Council’s licensing board said there was “insufficient evidence” to allow them “to conclude with any degree of certainty” that the city was oversupplied.

However, the Drugs and Partnership Board evidence was “compelling”, declared Cllr David Bowes: “We have to make a contribution towards dealing with these problems,” he told the Evening Telegraph.

The Scottish National Party councillor had wanted the city centre, plus the new waterfront to be excluded from the licence ban, but he was outvoted on a motion put forward by the Labour Party.

Rejecting charges that the curb could hit Dundee financially, Bowes said a licensing board had to deal with licensing issues: “We cannot be influenced by external factors.

“The only way to see if this policy is going to work is to put it into practice and to monitor the position over time.

“We will review the position in 12 months’ time,” he went on.

Seven licence applications are in the works, but they were put on hold until the licensing board had decided on the new policy. They will now be dealt with on October 7th.

Public service

Meanwhile, the board – which also deals with takeaway licences – heard a petition from 700 people, who want a popular Indian takeaway in Broughty Ferry to be able to open into the early hours.

Six staff are often busy behind the counter at Khans, which is owned by Teyfik Cetinkaya, in Brook Street dealing with late-night customers, his solicitor, Janet Hood declared.

Without the opening hours extension, she said, the business is under threat, the board was told – because late-night pub licences granted by the licensing board had cut Khans’ trade by one-fifth.

“My client runs an extremely good business. There have been no issues with the police or any other agencies regarding anti-social behaviour or anything of that nature,” she said.

In fact, she argued that Khans contributes to the public peace, rather than disturbs it: foods rich in carbohydrate and fat – such as doner kebabs – send people to sleep.

The availability of such food until 2am on weekdays and 2.30am at weekends would cut down, too, on kitchen fires started by people who arrive home drunk, she said.

The licence was awarded. Now, the only other major piece of business on the board’s agenda is a decision on whether the Deja Vu nightclub in the city centre should be allowed to stay open until 6am.

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