Council pledges to save Northampton beer festival

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Northampton Borough Council has pledged to save the county’s biggest beer festival following public outcry over its cancellation.

It was revealed on Saturday that the Northamptonshire Beer Festival, which traditionally takes place at Delapre Abbey and has been running for more than 25 years, has been scrapped.

Organiser Phil Greenway, who is also chairman of Northants CAMRA, said the county branch lacked members willing to help organise it, and there was a risk of being left open to insurance claims.

The leader of Northampton Borough Council, Councillor David Mackintosh (Con, Rectory Farm) has pledged the authority will work with CAMRA to save the festival.

He said: “It would be a terrible shame if the town lost this popular event and we’re currently speaking to the organisers to see what assistance the council can give to make sure it goes ahead.

“The festival showcases Delapre Abbey and helps bring the work of some of our local breweries to a wider audience.”

Mr Greenway said: “We have 1,300 CAMRA members in the county but unfortunately, very few are active. We are unable to form a committee to help plan the festival and I am no longer prepared to take sole responsibility for it.

“The health and safety implications are now beyond the capabilities of the branch. Without professional expertise we leave ourselves vulnerable to insurance claims.”

Many responses to the Chron’s online story were based on suggestions it was cancelled solely for ‘health and safety’ reasons, something the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has moved to clarify. Regional director Rosi Edwards said: “On behalf of the HSE I would like to reassure people there is nothing in health and safety law to prevent the event from going ahead. People at the HSE like a good night out as much as the next person and we have a few CAMRA members too.

“Maybe this report will encourage those who aren’t active members to get more involved in their local branch.”

The news of the beer festival’s cancellation provoked shock among the Chron’s online followers when the story broke on Saturday evening.

Nearly 90 responses within an hour were received on Twitter alone.

Alex Howe said: “Can’t we unite to help them do something? It’s a Northampton tradition.”

And writing on the Chron’s Facebook page, Chris Baker said: “Bad news. I really enjoyed it, even the kids did too. Everything was really great at this event. Terrible shame.”

Amy Bird said: “Terrible news. Surely someone can help them out with health and safety issues? The beer fest is a great event.”

Carol Busuttil said: “It’s a great shame that not enough people are prepared to give their time and effort to stage this event.”