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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 July, 2003, 16:32 GMT 17:32 UK
Eisteddfod alcohol ban 'could end'
Wine bottles
Some eisteddford-goers are against the ban being lifted
The director of the National Eisteddfod says the long-standing ban on alcohol in the maes should be lifted - if that is what its followers want.

Elfed Roberts said he was personally in favour of an end to a ban of 150 years on drinking on the eisteddfod field.

"Personally, if our customers want the ban to be lifted then I have no problem with that, " he said.

However, any decision to change the anti-alcohol tradition at Wales annual celebration of language and culture will have to be made by the eisteddfod's council.

It follows the call by a Conservative AM for the National Eisteddfod to shed its 'stuffy' image and get up-to-date by allowing alcohol to be drank on the main competition field.

National Eisteddfod pavilion
The eisteddfod council will make the final decision

Glyn Davies, the Conservative AM for Mid and West Wales, says wine should be allowed at the festival when it visits Newport in 2004.

Currently, there is no bar on alcohol at the youth event in the festival - known as Maes B - or at the adjacent caravan field.

"There are 700 caravans in that field - I wonder how many of them have a mini-bar?," said Mr Roberts.

Mr Davies, who farms near Meifod where this year's eisteddfod is being staged from 2 to 9 August, says introducing wine at receptions would help boost its image.

He criticised the hypocrisy around the celebration which often sees heavy drinking in pubs nearby - but not on the maes.

Retrograde step'

"I think that if the principle was accepted next year in Newport, then the concerns that people have would disappear," said Mr Davies.

"I would not want to see young people walking around the Maes with cans of lager but there can surely be nothing wrong with wine being served at receptions and lunches being held on the Maes."

But not everyone supports his view - eisteddfod- goer and retired judge Dewi Watkin Powell said introducing alcohol would be a "retrograde step".

"Experience shows the more outlets you have, the more people drink - and the more people are liable to do things they otherwise wouldn't do," he said.

The authors of a wide-scale report into the National Eisteddfod's future are due to report back in October - and the subject of alcohol is expected to be one of the topics addressed.




SEE ALSO:
Row over eisteddfod location
06 Mar 03  |  Wales
City invite for eisteddfod
22 Aug 02  |  Wales
Festival clear-up continues
12 Aug 02  |  Wales
Time called on drink ban rule
22 Jul 03  |  North West Wales


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