Kirkcaldy Area committee becomes first to call for cap on off-licenses in the town

Kirkcaldy has become the first town in Fife to call for an area-wide cap on the number of establishments able to sell alcohol in a bid to tackle the its impact on crime and health caused by drink.

The move follows a report to the town’s area committee, based on the latest available data from 2016/17, confirming Kirkcaldy area having the second highest number of drink related emergency hospital admissions in Fife with 513.

Cllr Neil Crooks, committee convener called the report by the Director of Public Health, a “damning and deeply concerning insight into the problem of alcohol consumption in the area” and told fellow councillors it was absolutely imperative that a strategy to tackle the issues surrounding drink related issues was made a priority.

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Two thirds of the local area in Kirkcaldy had alcohol-related hospitalisation rates higher than the Fife average.

The report also highlighted Kirkcaldy as having the second highest number of anti-social behaviour incidents with 237 known to have been caused by alcohol.

With the town currently home to 174 licensed premises, of which 65 are off-sales, a motion called on Fife Licencing Board to consider a cap on the current number of off-licences across the area as part of an ongoing consultation.

It came as legislation for a minimum alcohol price of 50 pence per unit was brought into force across Scotland.

However Cllr David Ross warned members to be “very careful” when considering the statistics in isolation, and urged against stigmatising poorer areas in the town.

“The report indicates higher volume of incidents in certain communities though there are a complex range of socio-economic factors in play in these areas regarding the wider issues of poverty and inequality.”

Cllr Ian Cameron added that the true reflection of the scale of alcohol related issues for each community would be best measured by the actual volume of alcohol sales.

The committee welcomed the continuing programmes educating both young people and parents to the risks of alcohol consumption.

Furthermore, the ‘Are You Asking’ pilot initiative being rolled out in Burntisland aimed at educating those found to be purchasing alcohol for those under age was also praised.

“That adults are buying alcohol for youngsters as young as 12 and 13 I find absolutely abhorrent and we need to do something about the problem right now,” added Cllr Crooks.