The Battle of Cable Street
The shuttered grocer’s shop at 375 Cable Street sits between an off-licence and a housing estate in East London. On the face of it, this is an unlikely front line for the Government’s drive to make the nation healthier. Yet, as Andrew Lansley puts the finishing touches to a White Paper, which he promises will bring a “radical new approach to public health”, this empty shop is the sort of place the Health Secretary will have to consider.
Plans to be announced tomorrow will transfer responsibility for public health from the local NHS to councils. For parents, it comes down to something as concrete as this: will the planning authorities let a fast-food takeaway open outside the gates of your child’s school?
For the experts, nudging people might not be enough. Sometimes they need a shove, such as banning junkfood adverts on television before the watershed. “Any one thing isn’t going to do the job,” Professor Davies said. “Regulation is not your first port of call, but it does need to be there when you need it.” Supermarkets and off-licences will be banned from selling cut-price alcohol. The Home Office is to announce plans under which the minimum price for a litre bottle of spirits would be £10.50 and for a 20 pack of beer £8.50.
The pricing is based on a formula whereby shops will be unable to sell alcohol below the cost of duty on the drink plus VAT. Ministers are also considering imposing higher taxes on super-strength beers.
Nanny is back but speaking in a posher voice....