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Has alcohol become "too freely available" in Lambeth?

It is too easy to buy booze in Lambeth, claimed the council's cabinet member for public protection as politicians and experts gathered for an alcohol summit on the South Bank.

The first ever Lambeth Alcohol Summit was held on Monday at the Coin Street neighbourhood centre in Stamford Street.

A study analysing Lambeth's night time economy was presented to the summit in advance of a final report to be 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 34 million a year.

"Lambeth is a fantastic borough, enjoyed both by residents and visitors from far and wide," said Cllr Jack Hopkins, cabinet member for public protection.

"But we must recognise that alcohol has become too freely available in Lambeth and has a significant impact on levels of crime and antisocial 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 and 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 wellbeing, 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 businesses to assess the impact of alcohol on the borough and discuss how to best tackle the issues.

More than 80 people attended the event. The agenda included sessions on alcohol and the economy, the 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.

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