Politicians invited to debate issues facing pub industry at Norwich City of Ale Festival

Organisers of the City of Ale festival are hoping to get burning issues surrounding pubs in Norwich discussed by politicians and beer experts at a debate during next year's event.

The Norwich City of Ale Festival, held for the first time this year, celebrates all that is good about beer, brewing and pubs in the area and will run again next year between May 31 and June 10.

As part of the event, which last year involved 31 pubs and 35 breweries, organisers are hoping to hold a political debate about pubs in St Gregory's Church Pottergate.

The ambition is for the debate, which is hoped will be televised, to involve MPs and politicians from each political party as well as well as a pub expert in thrashing out some of the pressing issues currently facing the industry in front of an audience who will be invited to ask questions.

Dawn Leeder, co-chairman of the Norwich City of Ale, said: 'It will be a debate about the trials and tribulations of the industry.

'It's going to be an any questions debate. We want questions from the floor in advance - things like alcohol pricing. I don't know how many pubs are shutting at the moment. We also want to promote real ale as part of the solution rather than the problem.'

The debate, which fits in with the Evening News's Love Your Local campaign which tries to highlight issues affecting pubs, will take place on Friday, June 1.

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Organisers are looking for the likes of Bob Neill MP, minister with responsibility for supporting the country's pubs, to attend the event.

Phil Cutter, co-chairman of Norwich City of Ale, said: 'If we can say to them it will be broadcast we can get much higher profile people to come along. You look at what politicians say about pubs, I think they all agree that pubs are good for the city.'

The debate at St Gregory's Church is just one of the events planned for the Pottergate venue, which will be a festival information hub during the festival.

Others include a Barrel of Laughs stand up comedy night, sponsored by Attleborough-based Wolf Brewery and a pub quiz sponsored by Norwich-based Bear brewery.

Six beer writers, including Mark Dredge and Pete Brown, have also signed up to take part in a festival preview weekend for writers to promote next years City of Ale festival, Norwich, its pubs and its beer and breweries. The event will take place between January 27 and 29 next year.

The next City of Ale Meeting takes place at The White Lion pub, Oak Street, on Thursday, January 5 2012 at 10am.

To find out more about Love Your Local log onto www.eveningnews24.co.uk and click on campaigns.

Have you got a story for the campaign? Call reporter Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email peter.walsh@archant.co.uk