Police-backed schemes encouraging retailers to stop selling super-strength lager and cider are facing increasing opposition from suppliers and multiples.

As many as 55 towns and cities are planning to follow the lead of Ipswich, where nuisance street drinking was slashed by 50% after two thirds of retailers took brands like Frosty Jack’s and Carlsberg Special Brew off the shelves.

As RN readers remain split on the issue, Sainsbury’s has said it will not join the latest scheme announced covering High Wycombe.

The Wine & Spirits Trade Association (WSTA) said that its members were concerned that such schemes could breach competition laws by restricting consumer choice without legislation.

The OFT has said that it will monitor the situation.

RN last week revealed that sales of beer and cider which police want to banish makes up 6.5% of alcohol sales through c-stores.

Among the towns due to follow are Northampton, Portsmouth and Lincoln along with the London boroughs of Hackney and Camden.

Sainsbury’s said it would not participate in the High Wycombe scheme in the same way it has resisted involvement in Ipswich but said it would not clarify its position further and insisted it was committed to responsible retailing.

A spokesman said: “We recognise our responsibilities as a licensed retailer and have been an active partner in Community Alcohol Partnerships since 2007.

“We have also pledged to double our sales of low alcohol wine and beer by 2020.”

The WSTA said that it was aware that members believed there was a competition issue but believed that “locally targeted solutions” were more effective than minimum unit pricing.