Gateshead Council has just finished meeting. On the agenda was a motion calling on Scottish and Newcastle Breweries to retain the production of Brown Ale at the Dunston plant in Gateshead. (The company wants to move production to Tadcaster.) There was general unanimity and interestingly when I spoke, I was not heckled, interrupted or prevented from finishing what I had to say. One Labour Councillor, Mick McNestry, even followed me by saying he agreed with what I said. Interesting change from theantics of Labour at the last meeting.
But there was also an interesting intervention in the debate from Labour Councillor Stephen Ronchetti. He used the opportunity to attack the government on beer tax and do some special pleading for pubs. He complained that too many pubs were closing and amongst other things pointed the finger of blame at the government's decision to ban smoking in public places. In many ways it was a very strong boot up the government's backside.
All very interesting coming from a Labour councillor. But that is not what was the most interesting point. Cllr Ronchetti is a publican. He runs a pub in Blaydon. So I was a bit surprised that he decided to use a council meeting to make the case against government policy that he regarded as damaging to pubs.....without declaring an interest in the matter.
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