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Friday, 31 October 2014

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Cumbria is great example to UK, says Chancellor George Osborne

Cumbria is setting a shining example to the rest of the UK when it comes to business – that was the message from Chancellor George Osborne during a visit to Carlisle.

George Osborne photo
George Osborne with Diane Patinson, left and Liz Graham

The Conservative politician - on a two-day visit to the city - stopped off at Cranstons’ new food hall, at Orton Grange, and hailed the development a shining example to others.

Arriving at the start of the busy teatime trade, customers did a double take as they spotted the Chancellor while picking up some food on their way home from work.

While there, he met apprentice butchers and sampled Cumbrian produce.

He also spent time chatting to staff over a cup of tea in the neighbouring Orton Grange Cafe and Gift Shop, which was established by brother and sister Richard Martin and Claire Scott to diversify their farm.

In November, the Cranstons food hall was added to the site, replacing a smaller farm shop, sitting alongside its gift shop, cafe, swimming pool, beauticians and hairdressers.

Mr Osborne said that it was a good example of a how rural businesses can grow and thrive.

“I do not think I’ve ever seen anything like this. My constituency is Cheshire, we’ve got rural businesses, farm shops and the likes, but I don’t think I’ve seen anything quite so impressive attached to a farm.

“It’s as good as any food shop I’ve seen anywhere in Britain, even central London, and probably a lot better,” he said.

Mr Osborne added: “A business like this is fantastic for the rural economy and the direction we want to be heading in, creating jobs in the countryside. They have created new jobs here in the past few months and are giving people a greater understanding of where our food comes from.”

The Chancellor had earlier visited BSW Timber at its mill at Cargo, near Carlisle, where 30 new jobs have just been created. He was then due to address a business breakfast in the city this morning after spending the night in the Penrith area.

Penrith and the Border MP Rory Stewart said he invited him to Orton Grange to see how small to medium-sized businesses are building on Cumbria’s strengths – its food, its landscapes and tourism – to grow.

“I wanted to show him a different side of the country. An example of how we can make rural areas work,” he said.

While at Cranstons, the Chancellor sampled locally-produced Herdwick lamb and Cumberland sausage.

Among the butchery apprentices he met was Katie Marsden, 25, who started her training in November. She said: “It’s a great opportunity for me. I think there should be more women in the industry.”

Fellow apprentice Stephen Roscamp, 30, also from Carlisle, was taken on by Cranstons after being made redundant from his job at the Rural Payments Agency last year.

“I had a big think about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I’ve got two small children to support so I decided I wanted to learn a trade. I wanted a career. I decided I wanted to be a butcher so started bothering all the butchers in Carlisle for work experience.

“In the end I got offered this. I was really pleased,” he said.

Managing director Philip Cranston said the visit had gone really well: “He spent a lot of time here. Hopefully he learnt a little bit about local food and local produce.”

Mr Osborne also used the visit to defend the Government’s economic plan, saying it was bringing in measures that make it easier for businesses to take on new employees and apprentices, but warned there is no quick fix for the country’s finances and there are still tough decisions to be made.

“Cumbria sets a brilliant example. It is good news after some difficult times.

“The Government’s economic plan is working. Jobs are being created. Businesses are growing. But this job is not done. Things could still go backwards,” he added.

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