NHS Grampian hits out at proposal to sell booze in shop at Aberdeen student halls

Hillhead halls of residence

NHS Grampian has objected to plans to sell alcohol on a university halls site due to fears it will encourage students to drink.

Omar Retail Logistics has applied to sell alcohol at its convenience store located within Hillhead Halls of Residence in Seaton.

The shop wants to sell booze between 10am and 10pm Monday to Sunday.

In a letter sent to the city council’s licensing board, Dr Tara Shivaji, consultant in public health at NHS Grampian, said: “While I accept the local shop is an important amenity, I am of the opinion that it serves a population in whom hazardous alcohol consumption is already an important public health problem.

“It will also serve as a local amenity for young people under the age of 18 who may be living away from home for the first time.

“While many young people may be emotionally mature and able to handle peer pressure and stress, others may not be so confident or so emotionally mature.

“It is therefore vitally important that this premises, a facility that they are likely to use on a regular basis, does not pose a risk to the health and wellbeing of our young people by directly or inadvertently encouraging them to purchase alcohol where they had not intended to do so.”

In their letter, the health board said binge drinking is the most common public health issue affecting university students in the UK – affecting up to 89% of young men and 77% of young women.

Dr Shivaji added: “The size of the alcohol display and its position in the shop has all been shown to encourage more alcohol purchasing than was originally intended.

“The more alcohol that is purchased, the more is consumed.”

A convenience store was previously located in a building adjacent to the halls with an alcohol capacity of 16.92m2 but has since relocated to within the site.

The new off-sales capacity for this premises has still to be confirmed but could be around 32 sqm – 89% larger.

Dr Tara Shivaji said it is “vitally important” alcohol isn’t readily available.
Dr Tara Shivaji said it is “vitally important” alcohol isn’t readily available.

Dr Shivaji has suggested the off-sales capacity for the store be restricted to match what was available in the previous premises.

A spokesman from Omar Retail Logistics said they did not wish to respond to the objection until the licensing board meets on Tuesday.