This from The Guardian (article link):
Call to give local people power to block licensing applications
Thursday September 18 2008
People could be given the power to object to alcohol licensing applications on public health grounds under a radical plan from a commission charged with improving health in the most sickly city in the UK.
The Health is Wealth commission proposes the introduction of community licensing forums as part of a 12-point plan to end Liverpool's reign at the top of the country's ill-health league.
Such forums have already been established in Scotland since changes to the law there in 2005 allowed licensing boards to consider the impact on public health of any new off licences, pubs or clubs.
Licensing laws in England and Wales do not allow for specific public health considerations. But the commission believes the government's commitment to tackle alcohol-related crime and disorder means there is scope to act.
The idea comes in a report published today by the commission aimed at improving the quality of life for the 1 million people in the Liverpool city region, where life expectancy is three years less than the English average and seven years less than parts of the south-east.
The commission – made up of 15 experts in fields including health, housing and policing - was established by the University of Liverpool as one of its contributions to the city's year as European Capital of Culture.
Sue Woodward, who chaired the commission, said members had heard "harrowing, often controversial, and always no-holds-barred evidence" about the city's health and social problems.
"We have had to face up to some harsh truths: generations of families dependent on benefits; spiralling problems with obesity and alcohol misuse, and above all the creation of a super underclass; an invisible army of people disconnected and cut off from the opportunities being created on their own doorsteps," she said.
The University of Liverpool and the area's local authorities and health trusts have pledged to implement the commission's blueprint for improving the city's health and wealth.
As well as the alcohol forums, the group recommends the setting up of a world-class Institute of Deprivation, based at Liverpool University, to study inequality and deprivation in inner cities. Funding for this has already been secured.
The commission recommends the institute offers a health MOT to every man, woman and child in the city.
It also suggests the creation of a parks taskforce to make better use of the city's public spaces. It was inspired by Central Park in New York, where people are allowed to run small businesses to ensure areas are not left empty for long periods and help generate funding.
And the commission proposes rewarding firms which promote work-based health and wellbeing; setting up a taskforce to examine the causes of and contributors to the high level of incapacity benefit claimants in the city (75% higher than the British average); and ensuring health and wellbeing are at the heart of the design process for new homes, schools, offices and public buildings.
They also want local authorities to support social enterprises which recruit people who have been claiming incapacity benefit.