A NEW taskforce has been set up to tackle underage drinking and the associated anti social behaviour in an East Lancashire town.

A new study revealed the Ribble Valley had issues with under 18s drinking alcohol in the grounds of Clitheroe Castle and other areas of the borough.

Residents had complained to police and council bosses urging them to stop teenagers congregating in parks and open spaces ahead of the school holidays.

In a bid to tackle the issue council bosses called on trading standards to inspect off licences, cornershops and supermarkets and other businesses which sell alcohol too.

Out of 10 businesses visited 50 per cent were found to have sold alcohol to an underage mystery shopper.

Rick Wilson, Lancashire County Council trading standards boss, said: “We’re working very closely with retailers and the local community to help reduce alcohol-related harm to young people in the Ribble Valley.

“The key is to ensure staff are well-trained and have the support they need to inform customers of the Check-25 policy, ask for ID, and if necessary refuse to sell alcohol and other age-restricted products.”

From July 20 a taskforce made up of council bosses, trading standards inspectors, police, teachers, business owners and health professionals will come together to offer alcohol free activities.

The taskforce will use a mix of education, enforcement, community engagement and the provision of diversionary activities for young people.

Colin Hurt, head of regeneration and housing at Ribble Valley Council, said: “The aim is to raise awareness and prevent these sorts of activities happening again, such as littering and vandalism.

“It starts with alcohol it can then move onto drugs and onto petty crime such as assault.”

The Ribble Valley Community Alcohol Partnership will be launched at the Grand in Clitheroe at 2.15pm on July 20.