AN AWARD-winning entrepreneur has slammed business backers for turning their nose up at his saucy forks.
Chester’s Paul Nicholls, 30, has sunk £20,000 of his own money into brainchild Dimension 4 UK.
After six years of development, his comedy range of model forks in different poses is selling well.
He explained: "I’m sure there would be people who would be offended. But we’re still a business and we still meet the criteria.
A publicly-funded scheme to promote small businesses has shunned him on what Mr Nicholls believes are ‘moral’ grounds.
An e-mail from The Enterprise Fund’s Roger Seddon to Mr Nicholls said: "With regard to the name of the product, this caused us concern and, after referring the details to our operations manager, it was decided this would mean that we could not proceed with the application."
Mr Nicholls said: "I kind of accept it from the banks because they’re there to make money, not to help you, and it’s a ‘risk to the reputation of their company’. But the final nail was these people who are supposed to be there to establish new businesses."
The Enterprise Fund requires new businesses to have been rejected by their bank and be trading in Cheshire or Manchester – criteria his company meets.
He says he is already selling through 15 shops across the UK and has recently had an order from Australia.
Enterprise Fund executive director Drew Thomas confirmed they had refused Mr Nicholl’s £30,000 request based on the supply chain, prospective clients and estimated profits. and said: "We recognise the debate about whether organisations like ours should make business decisions based partly on matters of taste – but we make no apologies for following such a policy.
"The Enterprise Fund is publicly funded, and our assessment was that enough of the public in the North West would not react kindly to taxpayers’ money being used to fund this product when there are other worthy uses of such public funds.
"Despite our decision, we have not received a complaint about this matter, but we would obviously seriously consider any that is made in the usual way.
"We do sincerely wish Mr Nicholls well in his endeavours and have suggested other avenues for him to explore to access the funding his product needs.
"In the meantime, if any business person who has been refused mainstream funding by a bank would like to fund out more about how we can help them, they can contact The Enterprise Fund on 0161 245 4977."