THE leaders of all 12 councils in the North-East have issued an open letter to the Government calling for action to reduce the damage caused by the widespread availability of cheap, strong alcohol.

The Association of North East Councils (ANEC) is urging the three main political parties to include evidence-based measures in their election manifestos to address the problems continuing to be caused by alcohol.

Here in the North East alcohol-related hospital admissions in the over 65s have doubled in the past 10 years and more than 570 alcohol related crimes are recorded in the region every day.

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The open letter coincides with a National Day of Action on Alcohol Harm, organised by a number of national partners including Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, to highlight the impact that alcohol is having on the region and to encourage MPs to support measures to reduce the levels of alcohol-related harm.

The open letter states: “It is clear local action is not enough. We need your help. We urge you to include in your election manifesto plans evidence-based measures to address these problems.”

This includes the introduction of a minimum unit price, making alcohol less available and restricting alcohol marketing.

Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council and chair of ANEC, said: “All 12 local authorities are working extremely hard with partners across the region to reduce the alcohol harms that we continue to see on a daily basis. However, this is not something that we can tackle at just a local level.

“We need support from Government to implement evidence-based measures to reduce the affordability, the availability and the marketing of alcohol and we urge the main parties to ensure that these are included in their upcoming manifestos. Only then will we truly be able to reduce alcohol harms.”

Colin Shevills, director of Balance, added: “It’s extremely positive that 12 council leaders across the North-East are calling on Government to prioritise tackling alcohol misuse - and also supporting the National Day of Action on Alcohol Harm.

“Here in the North-East we continue to suffer at the hands of alcohol. The fact is that too many people are drinking too much too often and it is having a devastating impact across the region. This is driven by alcohol that is too cheap, too widely available and too heavily marketed.”