Labour parliamentary candidate: ‘People should need a licence to drink’

(CAMBRIDGE NEWS)   DRINKERS should have to get a licence to enjoy their favourite tipple – and could lose it if they overindulge, says a prospective MP.

John Cowan, Labour parliamentary candidate for South East Cambridgeshire, says the swipe card-style licence would also reduce the crime costs associated with alcohol consumption.

Introducing the idea on Labour networking site, LabourList, Mr Cowan said his scheme could lead to a “better functioning society”.

The licence would work in the same way that a driving licence does.

People would carry the card with them and swipe it every time they brought alcohol or tobacco.

Drinkers who got into trouble for being drunk and disorderly and other minor crimes would receive a fixed penalty notice and have three points endorsed on their card.

Monitored in places such as supermarkets and pubs, those who commit more serious offences would have their card endorsed with even more points and once the limit had been exceeded, the card owner would be disqualified from buying alcohol or tobacco.

Mr Cowan said: “Most people are responsible users and are able to have a few drinks and enjoy themselves without causing damage to others or the environment.

“However, not all drinkers and users of other substances are able to handle their use of booze in such a responsible manner.

“For a long time the Government has controlled motorists with a system of licences where people enjoy the right and freedom to drive, as long as they conform to certain rules.”

But some publicans criticised the idea.

Sarah Hemingway, manager of The Regal, in Cambridge, said: “I had 5,000 people through my door on Saturday, so how on earth would we have the time to check every one of those?

“In my opinion, it is ridiculous.

“We need to support Pubwatch more and get more police out on to the streets to tackle binge drinking.”

Debbie Bartlett, owner of The Townhouse on Ely’s Market Street, said: “This would just be another thing that we publicans have to monitor.

“I really don’t think it would work in practice, as how can we check their licences every time they come for a drink?

“This would not stop youngsters from binge-drinking in their local park.”

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