The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has urged ministers to scrap plans under the government’s Alcohol Strategy which encourage councils to restrict new off licences.

The proposals would result in local authorities drawing up policies to refuse new alcohol licences in any neighbourhood deemed to be a ‘cumulative impact zone’ and a cause of alcohol-related health harm.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said the policy was unnecessary and ill-conceived. “It is right that businesses seeking an off licence should be subject to robust scrutiny to ensure that they have plans in place to trade responsibly, but these proposals would create ‘no-go zones’ for businesses.

“The policy is unnecessary. There are slightly fewer off licences per head of population now compared with 10 years ago, and none of the academic studies cited by ministers show that more off licences in an area causes more alcohol-related health harms.

“We urge ministers to drop this ill-conceived policy, and focus on the measures that will make a genuine different to alcohol-related health harm in communities.”