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WANTAGE’S Beer Festival has lost its home at the former Civic Hall – despite the venue deciding to host its own event this year.

Wantage Beer Festival organisers said bosses at the Vale of White Horse District Council venue – which rebranded as The Beacon this year – ruled alcohol could not be sold by people hiring it.

The festival has been held there for the past two years but has now been axed for this year because it cannot find another location in the town.

Meanwhile, the council is planning its own free October beer festival at The Beacon.

Wantage Beer Festival organiser Neil Crook said the council told him the event did not fit with its “business plan”.

The venue was renamed in April with an £11,000 relaunch in a bid to cut taxpayer contributions to its £100,000-a-year running costs.

Mr Crook said: “They said they were no longer permitting hirers to bring in their own alcohol and food.”

The White Horse Campaign for Real Ale branch chairman said he was “gobsmacked” by the decision. The Faringdon resident, 60, added: “It was extremely disappointing for us. We worked so hard to build up the event which we feel is of benefit to the town, to guest houses and shops.”

The CAMRA event attracted 600 drinkers over three days last November with £1 entry fee for non-CAMRA members covering the £1,000 hall costs. A replacement beer festival will be held in March at Grove’s Old Mill Hall.

Peter Fowler, landlord of the Shoulder of Mutton, Wallingford Street, will also put on “Not The Wantage Beer Festival” on September 26. Ales will be at the Shoulder of Mutton, The Royal Oak in Portway and Challow Park, opposite King Alfred’s West Site.

Mr Fowler wrote on his website: “The (festival) is so-named because CAMRA have been unable to host the Wantage Beer Festival this year, thanks to The Beacon refusing to allow them to have one.”

A Vale spokesman said: “One of the main reasons that The Beacon did not take the booking from CAMRA was that is goes against The Beacon’s hiring policy, which states that those hiring the venue must not bring their own food and drink.

“The Beacon do not want to alienate any local support groups however need to balance their requirements as a business with the rules for any prospective hirers of the venue.”

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