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ACS criticises new health report and calls for positive measures to support the high street

Published:  27 March, 2015

The Association of Convenience Stores has called for more support for the high street in response to yesterday's Royal Society for Public Health's report.

It claimed the 'Health on the High Street' report, contained a number of measures that would impact convenience stores, and have a "significant impact" on jobs, investment and innovation.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said the government should focus on supporting businesses that want to change and innovate, instead of increasing regulation and red tape that will restrict promotions and store layouts.

"Consumers are drinking less alcohol and locals shops are responding by providing lower alcohol products.," he said. "Consumers are looking to control calorie intake, and local shops are responding by offering low and no calorie soft drinks and other healthier options. Regulators should support these changes, not cut across them."

The Health on the High Street reports called for tighter controls on the numbers of premises licensed to sell alcohol in already saturated areas, the importance of health of as a condition for licensing of all types of businesses and limits on the proportion of each type of business on a high street.

It claimed increasing levels of "harmful and hazardous" alcohol consumption in parts of the country was of concern, due to the "disproportionate impact" it had on some communities. "The proliferation of on- and off- licenses on some high streets and town centres can reinforce unhealthy levels of drinking as well as lead to increased levels of antisocial behaviour, accidents and violence."

It called for government and local authorities to take into consideration alcohol's harm to health in the granting of licenses. "Government and local authorities are also asked to toughen how licenses are granted and to ensure that licensed premises do not contribute towards cumulative impacts," it said.

However, the report did recognise the important role played by pubs and bars in the social life of a community.

"While prima facie, pubs and bars may seem like they should perhaps be classed as a potential hazard to health on the high street, this would be looking at them simply as purveyors of alcohol, but they do have other benefits to overall health and well-being and therefore in the round we see them as having a more positive contribution to the health of a high street - up to a point," it said.