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Blur drummer turned county councillor backs campaign to save Norwich music venue

PUBLISHED: 19:50 27 September 2018 | UPDATED: 07:55 28 September 2018

Blur drummer and county councillor Dave Rowntree. Photo: STEVE ADAMS

Blur drummer and county councillor Dave Rowntree. Photo: STEVE ADAMS

Archant Norfolk 2011

Blur drummer turned Norfolk county councillor Dave Rowntree is to add his voice to those looking to save a popular Norwich music venue.

It was announced last week that the team at the Brickmakers, on Sprowston Road, would not be renewing their lease with owners Ei Publican Partnerships after talks broke down.

This newspaper launched a petition on Saturday to save the pub, which has launched many careers, including that of Ed Sheeran, who played at the pub in 2008 during the semifinals of the Next Big Thing talent competition.

And today a meeting was organised by Norwich city councillor and chairman of Future Radio Mike Stonard, to discuss how to keep it open.

MORE: ‘A sad time for musicians in Norwich’ - readers react to Brickmakers announcement

The team at the Brickmakers. Photo: ArchantThe team at the Brickmakers. Photo: Archant

Mr Stonard said: “It was a really productive meeting and discussion.”

He said there were to be more meeting with Ei and the team at the Brickmakers, plus David Rowntree, county councillor for university ward and Blur drummer had taken an interest in supporting the pub.

Mr Rowntree said: “This is part of a nationwide problem, small venues all over the country are under threat and it’s a real problem for the music industry because every band that is now successful started in these venues.

“We were playing exactly these kinds of pubs and clubs 25 years ago and it’s where we cut our teeth. It’s vitally important we have these places.”

Mike Stonard, Norwich city councillor. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYMike Stonard, Norwich city councillor. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Emma Rose, one of those who run the Brickmakers, said it was “unreal” to think Mr Rowntree was backing them.

MORE: ‘We’re heartbroken - Brickies is a real family’ say owners of The Brickmakers as it announces closure due to rising rent costs

She said: “To think it’s that far-reaching, it’s a testament to how strong and committed Norwich’s music scene is.”

It comes as more than 15,000 people have now signed the petition to save the pub.

Mrs Rose said: “It’s absolutely unbelievable. I don’t have the words to say what it means to us.”

MORE: Pub company hits back at ‘categorically untrue’ claims after four Norwich landlords step down in a week

She said the team was “overwhelmed and humbled” that so many people had shown their support.

She added: “A woman walked in with a handwritten letter, we opened it and it said ‘thank you so much for what you’ve done’ but with three lottery tickets inside. We don’t even know this woman but she took the time, and then you’re crying again.”

Of the meetings, Mrs Rose said: “We’re still fighting, but unless the rent is more sustainable it’s just not physically possible for us to continue.”

MORE: ‘I’ve had enough’ - pub company under fire after four Norwich landlords stand down over lease talks

Mr Stonard said: “It’s really pleasing to see how many people have signed and so quickly too, and it shows how important the Brickmakers is to our community and local music scene.”

A spokesperson for Ei Publican Partnerships said: “We are continuing to explore every opportunity in an attempt to find a solution which would allow our publicans to continue trading at the site.”

To sign the petition, click here.

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