Sheffield manufacturers to meet minister over '˜bonkers' new knife laws

Sheffield manufacturers will meet a minister over controversial new knife laws which they have branded '˜bonkers' and say would threaten jobs.

Monday, 3rd December 2018, 1:27 pm
Updated Monday, 3rd December 2018, 1:30 pm
Alastair Fisher, of Taylors Eye Witness, (right) with the then deputy leader of Sheffield Council, Leigh Bramall

The Government is considering banning firms from sending bladed items to residential addresses, as part of its new Offensive Weapons Bill, which is gong through parliament.

The proposed mail order restriction is designed to prevent potentially lethal implements falling into the wrong hands but cutlers in Sheffield say it would be a hammer blow to the industry.

Alastair Fisher, of Taylors Eye Witness, (right) with the then deputy leader of Sheffield Council, Leigh Bramall

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Sheffield cutlers fear new knife laws could 'destroy' industry

Nearly 24,000 people have now signed a petition calling for the clause within the new bill outlining the contentious ban to be scrapped.

Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield spoke up for manufacturers in the city when the bill went before parliament last week, and he has now secured a meeting between them and Home Office minister Victoria Atkins.

The bill already includes exemptions for sporting purposes and he claimed it was preposterous that this meant a sword could be delivered to someone's home whereas a steak knife made in Sheffield could not.

Paul Blomfield MP

Mr Blomfield tabled amendments which would introduce a '˜trusted traders' scheme for responsible knife makers, who he said already have safeguards in place and want those measures to become standard across the industry.

Speaking after the debate, Mr Blomfield said: 'Many of the smaller manufacturers already carry out robust age verification measures and agree with the objectives of the bill.

'I am delighted that I have been able to secure a commitment from the minister to meet with me and Sheffield knife manufactures to find a sensible solution before this bill becomes law.'

Ms Atkins rejected the '˜trusted traders' amendments, claiming during the debate that they would increase the red tape experienced by retailers.

'This is simply a matter of conducting checks, and then the grown-up who is buying their kitchen knife going to a post office and showing their ID to prove that they are in compliance with the law,' she added.

Taylor's Eye Witness, which has been making knives in Sheffield for 180 years and employs 60 people, is one of several firms to have spoken out against the proposed mail order ban.

Company director Alastair Fisher said: 'We're bound to be impacted if this comes into law, and some of our smaller customers would be wiped out.

'After 180 years, we're not going to chuck in the towel but it would make things very, very difficult for us if this bill goes through as it stands. For us and our staff, it's a bigger threat than Brexit.

'It's completely bonkers because there are 400 million knives in circulation in the UK and this wouldn't stop people getting hold of one if they really want to. It's just gesture politics.'