Politicians choose alternative to booze

Alcohol-free wine is on a town hall’s menu after politicians voted to practise what they preach.

Manchester City Council has ratified a decision by its Social Strategy Committee to encourage council caterers to include alcohol-free wines and beers at functions and events.

Members attending the latest full council meeting then had the chance to choose wines from The Alcohol-Free Shop alongside their regular tipple at the monthly council lunch.

The move is the latest in a series of initiatives by the council to tackle the city’s binge drinking culture that has been blamed for a rise in violence and booze-related illnesses.

The decision follows a presentation to the Social Strategy Committee, which develops policy on social issues such as alcohol and smoking, by The Alcohol-Free Shop that launched in Manchester in May.

The Alcohol-Free Shop is working with health promotion and crime prevention agencies to help deliver messages on sensible drinking and drink driving and campaigning for a change in the law on alcohol-free classification.

Committee chairman Pat Karney referred to the aggressive marketing strategies adopted by supermarket chains in relation to the promotion of alcohol during the FIFA World Cup.

Cllr Karney said this perpetuated the spurious link between alcohol and sport, and he drew the committee’s attention to the corresponding increase in drink-fuelled violence during the competition.

The council also agreed to support representations to the Government on adopting European policy in classifying drinks as alcohol free.

Across Europe drinks containing 0.5% alcohol or less as labelled ‘alcohol free’ whereas in the UK they are classed as ‘de-alcoholised’.

John Risby at The Alcohol-Free Shop welcomed the council’s support for our campaign to win a change in Government policy towards labelling drinks that have had the alcohol removed.

John says: “It’s easier in Europe to promote alcohol-free wines and beers because of the rules on classification. There are many more alcohol-free beers and wines available in Europe than in the UK and these are increasingly popular on the continent. We believe this is largely down to the rules on classification. The classification rules in the UK complicate the issue, confuse the consumer and restrict the market so there is less choice. We welcome the council’s support on this issue and will be lobbying MPs to take up this issue with the relevant government departments.”