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Monday, 22 December 2014

Row over expanding Made in Cumbria brand

A row has erupted over the running of the trademark for Cumbria’s crafts, gifts and food producers.

The Made in Cumbria brand, which promotes the county’s cottage industries, is to be switched from county council control to the stewardship of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber wants to apply its commercial nous to the project and expand the brand to include partners such as Sellafield Ltd and BAE Systems, the Barrow-based defence giant.

The idea is to use the global reach of Cumbria’s blue-chip businesses to help smaller producers. The Made in Cumbria brand could be stamped on products including nuclear submarines built in Barrow and Pirelli tyres produced in Carlisle.

But Made in Cumbria member Marianne Birkby, a wildlife artist and anti-nuclear campaigner, says she is horrified by the move.

Ms Birkby is the founder of anti-nuclear campaign group Radiation Free Lakeland and a fierce critic of the industry. She said: “Made in Cumbria was established to promote the sales of crafts, gifts and local foods.

“It is scandalous that the [nuclear] industry is buying Cumbrians off.

“As a working wildlife artist I have been a long-time member of Made in Cumbria which has provided excellent service to members.

“To now be an involuntary part of an organisation funded by the nuclear and arms industry is dispiriting.

“Made in Cumbria funding should come directly from central or local government, not taxpayers’ money filtered through the nuclear industry in a bid to buy passive acceptance of proposed nuclear developments.

“I won’t be renewing my membership when it runs out.”

Rob Johnston, chief executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: “The simple fact is without the involvement of the chamber, Made in Cumbria would stop. There is no more public money for it.

“That is why the county council asked us to take it over.

“It has to stand on its own as a commercial entity.

“That means building up the brand by drawing on all of the strengths we have in the county, including our major employers.

“Sellafield Ltd and BAE are not putting any significant funding into Made in Cumbria and they will not exert influence over its direction. They are both members of the chamber and are strategic partners because they are major employers. We would not be doing our job properly if we did not engage with them.

“A lot of work has gone into this and we have exciting plans which will benefit all members of Made in Cumbria. It is disappointing if people don’t support that.”

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