HEALTH chiefs believe a minimum price of 50p per unit of alcohol could help to address Warrington’s booze-related problems.

The introduction of minimum unit pricing (MUP) in the borough would set a floor price for a unit of alcohol.

MUP is targeted at the heaviest drinkers who consume the cheapest, strongest alcohol, especially in the most deprived areas.

Public health chiefs have been analysing a University of Sheffield research study about the impact of it in the area.

During Thursday’s health and wellbeing board meeting, members were told 87 per cent of the alcohol sold for less than 50p per unit in Warrington is consumed by ‘increasing and higher risk’ drinkers.

It has been estimated that a 50p MUP in Warrington would deliver annual savings for the NHS totalling £283,143, 181 fewer crimes a year and the prevention of 80 deaths over the next 20 years.

But it has been stated an MUP is not ‘anti-business’ and that pub prices would be left ‘virtually untouched’.

Council chief executive Steven Broomhead, who chairs the board, highlighted the need of ‘building a coalition between different places’ to deliver influence on Government policy and legislation.

Dr Muna Abdel Aziz, the council’s director of public health, also emphasised the importance of collaborative work with northern authorities as they are ‘most affected by alcohol harm’.

Former council leader Cllr Ian Marks (LD – Lymm North and Thelwall) also shared his views.

He said: “I have asked this question several times before and I still haven’t got an answer – why is Warrington so bad in terms of alcohol?

“People have tried to answer it but I’ve never had a compelling answer.”

Cllr Maureen McLaughlin (LAB – Latchford West), cabinet member for housing, public health and wellbeing, said she thinks it is partly down to a ‘northern culture’.

She also told members an MUP would be targeted at a ‘quite small number of drinkers at risk of death’.

“With minimum unit pricing, the evidence from Scotland is that they will change their behaviours and lives can be saved,” she added.