Burden of booze must be shared

Though figures used in the report may span back to 2003, the fact that Calderdale has a far higher than average incidence of heavy drinking and all the problems related to that, is a real cause for concern.

According to the data from the North West Public Health Observatory, binge drinking in Calderdale is 15 per cent above the national average, hazardous drinking 20 per cent and harmful drinking 30 per cent.

Alcohol-related hospital admissions are eight per cent higher, booze-related crime and incidents of violence caused by alcohol seven per cent above the national average.

All in all, pretty grim reading.

But much is being done to curb alcohol misuse, particularly among the young. The police have been proactive, patrolling areas where large groups of teenagers congregate and drink.

Pubs and clubs too are playing their part. The Pubwatch scheme has been successful in identifying trouble makers and banning them from town centres.

The Government is doing its bit with a clampdown on two-for-one and drink-all-you-can promotions which encourage people to get drunk, but seem strangely reluctant to take on the supermarkets and the loss leader deals they offer selling alcohol cheaper than anywhere else, which smacks of dual standards.

The ultimate cure however, has to be through education.

Given that Leeds, Bradford and Kirklees have similarly high figures, a county wide approach may be the answer.

As they say, two heads are better than one and it would inevitably prove more economocal to all those councils involved.