IAN HUDSPETH has survived the whole of January without alcohol – but says he doesn’t feel any better for it.

The leader of Oxfordshire County Council has also spoken of the difficulty he faced avoiding booze as he has to go to the pub on a regular basis to meet people on business.

Mr Hudspeth was challenged to go teetotal for one month only by the council’s public health department.

He took his last sip at 11.58pm on New Year’s Eve, and says he has not touched a drop since, despite the pressures this month of planning budget cuts.

The Conservative councillor for Woodstock, who lives in nearby Bladon, said: “It hasn’t been as difficult as I thought.

“I have still gone out to meet people at pubs and gone out for meals and social events.”

He added: “I don’t feel better or worse – I haven’t had withdrawal symptoms or cravings which was quite surprising, but I thought maybe I would feel better.”

“The biggest challenge I have found is the lack of soft drinks available – you always get the same things offered to you, Coca-Cola and Tango.”

The leader admitted that avoiding alcohol was made difficult by the “social” aspects of his job.

He said: “Particularly during December it was very difficult with receptions to go to and so on. People suggest having a chat or a catch-up at the pub, it is a social aspect.

“It is universal. Everyone seems to accept it and without realising it everyone seems to get sucked in.”

Caron Light, landlady of Mr Hudspeth’s local, the White House in Bladon, said: “I think it is a great thing. It is good for your health, but I wish they would do it in February.

“January is a very difficult month for a struggling pub to survive anyway. February would be better.”

The council’s health improvement principal Kate King said: “Regularly drinking more than the recommended daily guidelines is linked to a number of life-threatening conditions such as bowel cancer and heart disease, so anything which can help people develop a safer relationship with alcohol is a good thing.”

The Oxford Times:

Mariana Morris

Mariana Morris, 30 did the Dryathlon during January with five colleagues at web design firm White October in Cowley Road.

She was sponsored to take part by family and friends and raised £135 for Cancer Research UK.

But she said she also felt better for doing it, adding: “The most valuable thing I took from it is being more conscious about what I drink.

“Sometimes I will think, ‘I don’t want any more alcohol’, it just breaks up the habit.”