Cllr Andy Morgan, chairman of Bolton Council’s health overview and scrutiny committee and a magistrate, also wants to see individuals take more responsibility for their drinking.
It comes after The Bolton News spent an evening in the North West Ambulance Service’s Greater Manchester call centre, and saw first-hand the pressure staff are under at week-ends. Many of the incidents involved drunken teenagers, injuries due to alcohol consumption and assaults fuelled by booze.
Ambulance staff at the centre in Gorton, Manchester, spoke of their frustration when these patients take them away from people who are sick or injured through no fault of their own, all while they are trying to hit tough response targets.
The Bolton News reported in August that NWAS is one of the slowest trusts in the country for responding to emergencies, only reaching 73 per cent of urgent calls in eight minutes in 2009/10, against a target of 75 per cent.
Cllr Morgan said: “Alcohol-related problems are the biggest pressure facing the health service and impact on all the emergency services.
“Anyone who sells alcohol should be taxed to help fund the emergency services, they need to take more responsibility for the problems.
“It is about the bigger picture too, society needs to work together to tackle excess alcohol — for example, individuals need to be more responsible.”
Ann Comrie, a control manager with NWAS, said: “A lot of our jobs are alcohol-related, it’s always the biggest issue at the weekend.”
But the pub industry has hit back at calls for them to fund the work of ambulance, police and fire crews with a “999 tax”.
Lee Le Clercq, from the British Beer and Pub Association, said: “The alcohol industry in the UK is the most heavily taxed in Europe, we can’t cope with any more, we are losing 40 pubs a week.
“It is down to individuals to be more responsible and it’s time we got tough on drunk thugs.”
And he has been backed by the local sellers. Richard Greenwood, one of the owners of The Bar, in Nelson Square, said: “We can’t possibly be taxed anymore, it’s hardly worth being in this game as it is.”
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