The first ever Lambeth Alcohol Summit is being held today (oct22) to look into drinking and its influence on the borough’s diverse and vibrant community.
Alcohol is traditionally an important part of British culture, and the licensed trade makes a key contribution to Lambeth’s economy.
A study analysing Lambeth’s night time economy will be presented to the summit ahead of a final report being released in November.
The interim findings highlight how the borough’s night time economy involves around 980 firms, employs 7,000 people and generates more than £34million a year.
It is centred on Clapham, Brixton and Vauxhall, with potential for growth in other areas, including West Norwood and Streatham.
Night time economy firms have been stable employers throughout the recession and employ a disproportionately high number of Lambeth residents.
But despite the major benefits, drinking culture can also create social issues such as increased crime and negative impacts of people’s health.
The council, south London NHS health trusts and GPs are keen to also examine the potential harm alcohol can cause and get on top of any issues.
Cllr Jack Hopkins, Cabinet member of Public Protection, said: “Lambeth is a fantastic borough, enjoyed both by residents and visitors from far and wide.
“But we must recognise that alcohol has become too freely available in Lambeth and has a significant impact on levels crime and anti social behaviour, which are the top concerns of Lambeth residents’ and us as a partnership.
“We already have a zone to stop new licences being granted in Clapham, we come down hard on off licences that don’t follow the rules.
“Our licensing policy is currently being redrafted which will have at its heart responsible retailing and a better understanding of what types of licenced premises are appropriate to what places in the borough.
“Alcohol needs to be enjoyed sensibly for a safer and healthier borough and that is exactly what this discussion is all about.”
Cllr Jim Dickson, Cabinet member for Health and Well Being, said: “This event gives us the chance to discuss further action, such as promoting sensible drinking and balancing people’s right to enjoy themselves against the risk of social harm.
“As local councillors we see the damage that alcohol can do to and we need to offer support where appropriate, and more importantly we need to tackle the issue before it arises.”
The conference was organised by the Lambeth Health and Wellbeing Board and Safer Lambeth Executive, with councillors and health experts joining residents and local business to assess the impact of alcohol on the borough and discuss how to best tackle the issues.
The Alcohol Summit is taking place at the Coin Street Neighbourhood Centre in Stamford Street, South Bank.
More than 80 people are attending the event, and items on the agenda include alcohol and the economy, social impacts of alcohol, balancing the economic benefits with the impacts on residents and a summary of Lambeth’s response so far to the issues.
The summit is part of Lambeth council’s Safer Communities campaign to highlight what we’re doing to make the borough a safer place.
The campaign will also show how we are giving people in the borough more control over the council’s work with the police to reduce crime and the fear of crime.