Shadow chancellor Ed Balls backs Norwich pub campaign

You wait ages for one politician and then two come along at once.

That's how it must have felt for a Norwich pub owner who this week met shadow chancellor Ed Balls just a week after she challenged the Labour leader to save the city's pub trade.

Dawn Hopkins, owner of the Ketts Tavern on Ketts Hill and the Rose, in Queen's Road, called on Ed Miliband to do more to help the industry when he visited Norwich last Friday.

She told Mr Miliband that she had not seen anything in the past or any signs in the future that Labour were going to make it better for pub owners.

And yesterday it was another Ed – Mr Balls – who was in one of her pubs as he visited the city of his birth to support his party's city council election campaign.

Mrs Hopkins told the shadow chancellor: 'I have been doing this for 11 years and it is the most difficult time I have ever had.

'There are issues with the pricing and the competition from the supermarkets.'

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She told Mr Balls the VAT hike had not helped, and in response to a question from him, said the smoking ban had not been a major factor, at least for her pubs.

She said: 'The smoking ban has not been that big an issue. It is more about people not having the money in their pockets and people going to supermarkets.' Mr Balls told her: 'We are on the case and we will do what we can. There are issues around pricing and the supermarkets, and we need something to balance it out.'

Mr Balls, with a pint in hand and a Norwich City scarf around his neck ahead of a trip to Carrow Road to watch the Canaries play Nottingham Forest, also lent his support to the Evening News Love Your Local campaign.

He said: 'Ed Miliband was here last week and I have come back a week on. I am a big supporter of local pubs – a massive supporter. Pubs are at the heart of our communities and we will do what we can to ensure they stay there. We need to discuss the issues with the industry and with landlords.

'I am definitely a backer of the Evening News campaign and the fact we've got Labour activists here in a pub called the Rose seems most appropriate.'

The Evening News' Love Your Local Campaign, which Mr Miliband also backed last week, has urged people to make use of the city's pubs to stop them from disappearing.

For more stories on the Evening News' Love Your Local campaign visit

If you have a story about a pub, call reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email