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B&Bs told: Serve local food

PUBLISHED: 20:12 14 June 2006 | UPDATED: 11:01 22 October 2010

The region's hotels and guest houses should be stripped of their star ratings until they start serving locally-produced food, the man behind the Eden Project says.

The region's hotels and guest houses should be stripped of their star ratings until they start serving locally-produced food, the man behind the Eden Project says.

Tim Smit, founder of the pioneering Cornwall-based eco-centre, was in Norwich for the launch of Inspire East - a quango aimed at boosting sustainability and joined-up thinking among councils and developers.

He told the EDP that public bodies could do more to boost sustainability and favoured a get-tough approach to encourage more businesses to think about using locally sourced products.

“Hotels, businesses and restaurants should just not be given stars and support of ratepayers if they do not source their ingredients locally,” he said.

“If you want to protect agriculture in your local community you've got to support it. Once you start thinking like that every other thing falls into place.”

More than 200 people from businesses, councils, public bodies and voluntary groups attended the launch at Norwich City Football Club which also marked the creation of a new advisory group to give tips to planners on how they can improve the design of new communities to ensure they are environmentally friendly and make the most of transport links, access to services and leisure facilities.

Mr Smit said planners also needed to get tough if they were serious about encouraging sustainability at a local level but were often unable to “live the dream” when trying to create new communities because they were fixated on cost and meeting burdensome government targets.

“Sustainability is a generic word which actually is a bit meaningless,” he added. “If you want a new supermarket, nobody is asking what impact it's going to have in 30 years' time. When I started a farm shop I told the manager to leaflet everybody within a five-mile radius. You have got to throw down the gauntlet.”

Michael Nutt, destination development director at Visit Norwich Ltd, which supports the tourism industry in Norfolk, said he wanted businesses to do more to support local producers but did not favour a punitive approach

“It's a national scheme so you can't simply bend the rules like that,” he said. “But I think he hits the right marks in terms of the need for us in the industry to encourage and educate businesses to make more use of their local suppliers.

“That makes eminent sense from both the sustainability and business point of view, particularly in an area like Norfolk where there's such a strong farming community.

He said the organisation already supports an autumn food festival aimed at promoting local produce and was drawing up a sustainability guide.


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