Health chiefs and Council combat Swindon’s booze problem.
HEALTH chiefs say that work is being carried out to combat Swindon’s booze problem.
A shocking new report compiled by NHS Swindon as part of the Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy 2011-2014 shows that the town has an above average number of alcohol specific admissions for the under 18s, alcohol related violent crime and alcohol related sexual offences.
But at a meeting of the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee last night, Frances Mayes – NHS Swindon’s Senior Public Health Manager – said work was in progress to improve the situation.
She said: “Alcohol harm reduction has obviously been a priority in Swindon for some time now.
“The new strategy builds on the 2008/10 strategy and uses the same four themes – prevention through education, identification and treatment, crime and disorder and working with the licensed trade.
“For each theme we have reviewed the national guidelines and recommendations and we have outlined the progress made on each of the themes as well as the recommendations for the next three years.
“The strategy is still in draft form but we are working on the action plan and we have a co-ordinator starting next week who will be putting together an alcohol strategy steering group.”
As part of the strategy, it was revealed that 20 per cent of Swindon residents aged 16 and over engage in hazardous drinking – between 22 and 50 units of alcohol per week for men and between 15 and 35 units of alcohol per week for women.
And a total of 16.1 per cent of the town’s adults engage in binge drinking, consuming at least twice the daily recommended amount of alcohol.
The report said the average man living in Swindon loses about 8.3 months of life due to alcohol-use disorder, while the average woman loses about 3.5 months.
The problem is costing the town about £66.6 million a year. Nationally the cost is thought to be £55.1bn.
Ms Mayes said the strategy would be delivered by community safety partnership members and stakeholders, while an alcohol misuse co-ordinator will be appointed and a steering group established to monitor and ensure implementation of the strategy.
Coun Dale Heenan (Covingham & Nythe, Con) said he would like to see the town working towards achieving the prestigious purple flag in the centre, which Oxford city centre was awarded last year for the quality of evening and night time activities on offer, and the cooperation between the council, police and businesses in managing the area.
He said: “Swindon doesn’t seem to have an objection in mind for this, but it would involve working with the police, PCT and licensing trade and get recognised for the work we are doing to reduce alcohol misuse in the town.”