In the midst of crucial Brexit votes and Prime Minister’s Questions, a small corner of Parliament was devoted to Northumberland today.
A group of producers from the county descended upon Westminster to raise the profile of the excellence of the local food and drink industry under the banner of the accreditation scheme Produced in Northumberland (PIN).
They were also keen to make MPs, Ministers and those in the corridors of power aware of some of the challenges that face businesses in rural Northumberland.
The party wanted to emphasise the importance and diversity of agriculture, the food produced in Northumberland and the significance of tourism.
A string of MPs and Ministers visited the showcase event in the Jubilee Room at the House of Commons, including Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry, and Northumberland MPs Guy Opperman, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Ian Lavery and Ronnie Campbell.
Jake Berry said: “This demonstrates once again that the north of England is not like the south – it’s just better!
“Thank you to everyone who has come here today to prove to our southern brothers in arms that whatever they do, the north can do better, which I am very proud to say.
“It is so important that we bring the producers and businesses here to Parliament at this very, very important time for that special part of the country you call home.”
Coun Peter Jackson, leader of Northumberland County Council, which runs the PIN scheme, was delighted with the response to the event.
He said: “We had a constant stream of MPs and visitors and to a man and woman, they were absolutely impressed with the produce on show. It was a really encouraging response that will spark off to the whole world, never mind the country, how great the produce of Northumberland is.”
The food and drink sector plays a crucial part in the county’s tourism offer, contributing £307million to our local economy in 2016, accounting for 36% of the overall economic impact.
The delegation of producers represented Turnbull’s of Alnwick Butchers, Northumbrian Bakehouse, The Old Boat House Food Group, Kitty’s Ginger Wine, Lindisfarne Mead, Doddington Dairy, Carroll’s Heritage Potatoes and Marlish Water.
Hairy Biker Si King is an ambassador for the scheme, highlighting the importance of knowing the source of our food, right down to the raw ingredients. He appears alongside chef Martin Charlton, from the Old Boat House, Amble, in the first of a new series of videos that showcases the county’s offerings.
Cabinet member for arts, leisure, culture and tourism at Northumberland County Council, Cath Homer, said: “The food and drink sector plays a crucial part in Northumberland’s tourism offer.
“We hope this opportunity to network on a national stage will raise awareness of the industry among key decision makers and highlight the importance of buying local produce which will help these local businesses to develop and grow.”