NHS chiefs and council bosses are joining forces to try to tackle the growing problem of alcohol abuse in Leeds.
The Leeds Alcohol Challenge Conference on Monday will discuss ways of making the city a safer place and cutting the massive cost of binge drinking to the local economy.
Organised by NHS Leeds and Leeds City Council, the conference will build on the findings of a recent report which showed that incidents involving alcohol-related harm cost the city around £438 million every year.
That figure does not include the hidden costs of alcohol misuse to accident and emergency units, police, the fire service and local business costs through lost productivity and unemployment.
Coun Mark Dobson, chairman of the Healthy Leeds Partnership, said: “Organisations working in Leeds, including business and industry, must take the lead in making the reduction of harm caused by alcohol a priority. We all have a responsibility and a part to play in promoting a sensible drinking culture.”
Ian Cameron, director of public health for Leeds, added: “The Leeds Alcohol Challenge Conference will give an opportunity to have an open and frank debate featuring a wide range of organisations that have an interest in ensuring that we encourage responsible drinking.”
The report’s more positive findings included the fact that in 2008 alone 11,000 jobs in Leeds were created relating to the sale of alcohol.
Lee Le Clercq, regional secretary for the British Beer and Pub Association, said: “The pub and club sector in Leeds, enjoyed sensibly by hundreds of thousands of residents and visitors every year, directly employs around 15,000 people and contributes more than £270 million annually to the city’s economy.
“However, when alcohol is misused the potential dangers to health and family stability and the impact on crime and disorder concern us all.”