Taste Causeway was described by a Causeway Coast & Glens councillor as ‘one of the success projects of our borough,’ as members of the Leisure and Development Committee voted unanimously to award the project £20,000 per annum for the maximum of three years.
However, Sinn Fein Councillor Oliver McMullan had an issue with the brand name not including the word ‘Glens’.
As a one-stop food network for the local food and drink scene, Taste Causeway’s aim is to transform the reputation of food from the area. Having started out as a council-led project it has since become a community interest company, enjoying success as an All-Ireland Foodie Destination award winner and an accredited Slow Food destination.
Causeway Coast & Glens Council has supported the Taste Causeway project at a cost of £25,000 per annum over the last three years, under the agri-food support initiative, alongside Invest NI support of £144,000 over the last three years up to January 2022.
Taste Causeway requested that the council continue with their support and approve an annual financial contribution for the same three-year period, by way of match funding to support the business case for Phase III of Invest NI’s Collaborative Growth Programme (CGP) to the value of £20k per annum.
Proposing the recommendation is accepted, DUP Councillor Aaron Callan said: “Taste Causeway venture is probably one of the greatest success stories we have had in our local area and the fact it has grown out of a council led project and has now morphed out into such a successful body is testament to the thinking back in the day to set this up.
“Our hospitality sector and food and drink in particular is a key sector in Northern Ireland growing year in year out and it links in to our agricultural base here in Causeway Coast and Glens as well.
“I have no hesitation in proposing we support this venture. £20k per year is a small amount of money that makes a massive impact.”
Party colleague, Councillor Adrian McQuillan seconded the proposal adding: “I agree, the agri food business in this area is second to none and it would be remiss of us not to support it especially the way it has grown over the last few years.”
Sinn Fein Councillor Oliver McMullan questioned why the brand name didn’t include the Glens saying: “I don’t have a problem with the programme, just the brand name Causeway.
“When we talk about food production it’s right across Causeway Coast & Glens, is this the right brand name for promoting the entire Causeway Coast & Glens council area?
“There’s quite a bit of food production goes on in the Glens and we are left out of the brand name and I think that’s something that should be looked at.”
Julienne Elliott, council’s Town & Village Manager explained: “Now that Taste Causeway is a community interest company it may be difficult to change the brand at this stage but the membership comes from right across the entire Causeway Coast & Glens area and they do have 100 members on board at the minute and that includes not just producers but also suppliers and retail outlets as well.”
Still not satisfied, Cllr McMullan added: “Having a registered brand name is good but they have left out part of the council area and that’s fact. I think it’s a big mistake leaving the Glens out of it.”
Referring to the Sinn Fein councillor’s comments, Alderman George Duddy said: “I think it’s unfair of a councillor to ask a member of staff to comment on a company name and why there isn’t an addition to the name.
“Taste Causeway have been going for some time and are an established brand, it’s their choice, they are a community-based company and it is their choice what they call themselves.
“I think for a councillor to put an officer on the spot and ask why there isn’t an addition to that brand name which is well recognised as we have heard and we are very well aware of the outputs they have in the community and what they are doing right across the Causeway area, right across Northern Ireland and further afield, I do think that line of question is wrong and shouldn’t be happening, that is a matter for the private company .
“We are not here to tell private companies to change their name to suit us or a political agenda.”
The recommendation to approve the funding passed unanimously. The approved £20k per annum is conditional upon Taste Causeway being successful in their bid for Phase III funding, which is awaiting Invest NI’s decision.