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Thursday, 24 January, 2002, 13:55 GMT
Lager owners at Westminster talks
Wrexham Lager Brewery
Lager had been brewed in Wrexham for 120 years
Bosses from the brewing giants Carlsberg-Tetley have been called to a meeting at the House of Commons on Thursday in a bid to save a north Wales brewery.

The Danish company closed Wrexham Lager 18 months ago with the loss of 35 jobs, ending a 120-year tradition in the town.

Martyn Jones, Clwyd South MP
Martyn Jones wanted MPs to boycott Carlsberg

A local business consortium has said it wants to buy the brewery.

However, the group has so far failed to reach a deal with Carlsberg-Tetley.

Now in a bid to break the impasse between the two groups a meeting has been arranged before an independent chairman in Westminster.

Carlsberg-Tetley's Chief Executive Colin Povey is expected to outline the company's position to the members of the Phoenix project.

This latest moves comes after MPs were urged to call time on the continental brand of alcohol by Clwyd South MP Martyn Jones.

Mr Jones told his colleagues in Parliament to boycott the drink and also called for the beer company's products to be barred from the Commons in an official Early Day Motion.

The motion has so far received the backing of 71 MPs.

He accused the firm of "stringing along" the local consortium who want to save the production of Britain's oldest lager.

The claim has been strongly denied by Carlsberg-Tetley.

Brewing history

Mr Jones said: "Carlsberg clearly don't want Wrexham Lager - but they don't want anyone else to own it either.

"In Denmark, Carlsberg prides itself on being a defender of heritage and tradition - yet over here, they are quite prepared to ride roughshod over this cornerstone of British brewing history."

Wrexham-based Phoenix Project, headed by former brewery director David Priestley, had negotiated exclusive brewing rights for the brand.

They were planning to start production from the historic Cambrian Brewery at St Giles Way in Wrexham town centre when the talks finished.

We'd be delighted to sell Wrexham lager at the right price, we're still producing it and making money

Donna Cresswell, Carlsberg-Tetley spokeswoman

Carlsberg-Tetley have strongly denied that they have gone back on their deal with the group.

Mr Jones received a letter from Mr Povey outlining his company's stance on Wrexham Lager.

He said: "There were material inconsistencies in Carlsberg-Tetley's position in the letter, when compared to the company's previously stated stance.

"In the light of this I requested that the catering committee defer making a decision on the withdrawal of Carlsberg-Tetley products."

Wrexham Lager
Wrexham Lager was last brewed in the town in 2000

For now, Wrexham Lager will continue to be brewed at Leeds.

However, the company's Head of Communications Donna Cresswell has insisted they could still find a buyer for the brand.

"We'd be delighted to sell Wrexham lager at the right price, we're still producing it and making money," she said.

If the meeting is not successful and the Commons boycott goes ahead, figures uncovered by Martyn Jones suggest that it would have an impact on the company's sales records.

More than 2,300 gallons of Carlsberg-Tetley is consumed in the Palace of Westminster's bars and restaurants every year.

The BBC's Wyre Davies
"A David and Goliath battle"
Martin Jones, MP for Wrexham
"Why shouldn't we protect our heritage?"
BBC Wales's David Cornock reports
"Attempts to set up a heritage brewing project on the site have come to nothing"

More news from north east Wales
See also:

12 Feb 01 | Wales
Deal brewing for historic lager
02 Aug 00 | Wales
Hope for former brewery
07 Apr 00 | Wales
Welsh brewery's last orders
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