The Star has won its campaign to keep Sheffield’s status as a protected trading name which cannot be used by cheap imitations.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has intervened after being alerted to the proposals by The Star.
Business leaders and MPs spoke out against about plans to axe the special status after we launched our campaign.
Nearly 400 Star readers also signed an electronic petition on the 10 Downing Street website set up by The Star urging ministers to keep Sheffield protected.
The current procedure, under which businesses wishing to use the name Sheffield must seek approval from the Cutlers’ Company, was threatened under a Government drive to reduce red tape.
Master Cutler Neil MacDonald, who also lobbied Mr Clegg over the proposed axing Sheffield’s ‘unique’ status, said: “I’m delighted that the Government has seen sense.
“This was never something that should have been considered. I would like to thank The Star and local MPs for their support in protecting Sheffield’s special status.”
Mr MacDonald said if the city’s protection was lost there was a danger ‘cheap imitation’ manufactured goods could be made in countries such as China using Sheffield’s name – undermining the brand and costing local jobs.
Alarm about the potential loss of Sheffield’s protected status was first raised by Sheffield Central Labour MP Paul Blomfield, who has been planning to call for a Parliamentary debate on the issue.
Business Secretary Vince Cable launched a consultation process earlier this year about axing a long list of protected names, including Sheffield, during which the Cutlers’ Company and other business leaders objected.
Mr Cable has yet to report back on which of the names should be saved.
But Sheffield Hallam MP and Liberal Democrat leader Mr Clegg said: “It is absolutely right to look at reducing unnecessary red tape and regulations.
“However, I won’t allow Sheffield’s worldwide reputation for high quality products and services to be undermined.
“I have always supported protecting the Sheffield name, which has been associated with quality going back decades.
“As a Sheffield MP I have made my views known that this special status should remain.”
Mr Clegg first become aware of the issue only after it was raised with him by Mr MacDonald and The Star – but the controversy has since been subject of national debate.
It is understood he has spoken to Mr Cable to ensure Sheffield remains on the list of protected names, although formal confirmation will not happen until the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills announces the result of its review later in the summer.
In 2007, Mr Clegg lobbied against plans to reduce red tape for businesses by the then Labour Government, which could have cost Sheffield’s protected status in a similar way.
In his letter to his Liberal Democrat colleague Mr Cable, Mr Clegg said: “The Sheffield brand is recognised both in the UK and internationally.
“It is synonymous with quality and regional authenticity. It is an integral part of the local economy both in supporting the existing businesses and in attracting fresh and emerging businesses to our region.”
The letter from Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills:
I am writing as a Sheffield MP in support of the calls to protect the name of ‘Sheffield’ for the exclusive use of goods and services generated here.
The Sheffield brand is recognised both in the UK and internationally.
It is synonymous with quality and regional authenticity. It is an integral part of the local economy both in supporting the existing businesses and in attracting fresh and emerging businesses to our region.
It seems to me that the process in place to decide whether companies have the right to use the Sheffield name has been efficient and effective.
It has been used to protect the region’s deserved reputation for quality, and to support its economic development.
As a Sheffield MP, I support the argument that the Sheffield name should be protected, and urge you to take full account of the representations made to you that this practice should continue.