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Saturday, 23 August 2014

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Review refuses to relax rules for Cumberland wrestling

TRADITIONAL Cumbrian wrestling will not escape Government bureaucracy.

Cumbrian MP Tim Farron has hit out after the Government decision not to relax the law for Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling – despite other forms of the sport being given rule breaks.

The issue centres around entertainment licensing laws, which mean event organisers have to overcome red tape to include these sports.

The Government has just conducted a review to see whether the rules could be relaxed for some events, such as small-scale live music performances and sports.

But although it has agreed to relax the rules for some types of wrestling, the same will not apply to traditional Cumbrian and Westmorland or Cornish forms.

It means those wishing to host the long-standing Cumbrian sport will still have to go through the full licensing process for it to be lawful.

The consultation concludes that it would be “suitable and workable for the deregulation of Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling” at events with an audience size up to 1,000.

This means organisers will no longer have to fill in licensing paperwork or put forward costly applications.

However it adds: “The Government considers that Cornish or Cumbrian wrestling entertainments cannot with the same certainty be considered to be lower risk entertainment with respect to the licensing objectives.”

Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling is a regular attraction at summer events across Cumbria, ranging from the bigger agricultural shows such at the Cumberland and Skelton, to smaller events like summer village fetes and community gala days.

Alf Harrington, secretary of the Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling Association, said he couldn’t understand why they were being singled out.

Mr Harrington, of Carlisle, told the News & Star: “It seems very strange, especially when it comes to sports that are indigenous to these areas and are steeped in history.

“Greco-Roman is international and an Olympic sport, we just cover our own area. The same applies to the Cornish wrestling. Why they think we are any more dangerous I don’t understand.”

He also said he couldn’t understand why the Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling Association hadn’t been consulted by the Government when carrying out the review.

South Lakes MP Mr Farron condemned the decision and vowed to lobby ministers to reconsider.

He said: “I am disappointed to hear that Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling isn’t to be treated the same as Greco-Roman and other types of wrestling.

“They all come with some risks but I disagree with the government’s decision in this regard.

“I think anything we can do to help people put on a safe event but avoid reams of paperwork is something I support. I hope we can get ministers to think again.”

PMcGowan@cngroup.co.uk

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