Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Around 80 jobs at risk as council serves Scots food company with eviction notice

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A FOOD company says around 80 jobs are at risk after a council issued them with an eviction notice.

Food growers Locavore said Glasgow City Council have sent them a notice of removal to its organic farm at the city‘s Bellahouston Nursery.

Owner Reuben Chesters said he’s “deeply disappointed” about the newsCredit: Tom Farmer
The company plunged into administration in January – but two stores remain in GlasgowCredit: Tom Farmer
The organic city farm is set for a bumper crop in just a few weeksCredit: Getty

The “ethical” supermarket – which was established in 2011 to build a better food system – plunged into administration in January.

The not-for-profit organisation previously owned four zero-waste supermarket in Govanhill, Partick, Kirkintilloch, and Edinburgh.

But it was forced to close its Edinburgh and Kirkintilloch stores shortly before appointing joint liquidators Blair Nimmo and Geoff Jacobs from Interpath Advisory.

They claimed in January that the company incurred “significant set-up costs” for a new warehouse. It was also impacted by the increase in energy and food prices.

Locavore’s Govanhill and Partick shops are still trading after they were acquired by Chard Holdings CIC.

The new company still uses Bellahouston Nursery to grow produce but council bosses said they had not taken responsibility for the unpaid debt owed to them.

Council bosses said there were no assurances for Chard Holdings CIC continue the previous firm’s lease at the nursery.

But Locavore bosses have said if they are forced to move from the council site, dozens of jobs may be at risk as they may have to shut their last two shops in Glasgow.

They said they have until the end of the month to leave the site, which they claim is responsible for the majority of their work.

The growers expects a huge harvest of tomatoes, cucumbers, beans and kale in the coming months.

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Locavore said while its liquidation voided the lease “assurances had been given that the new organisation would be able to continue to operate from the site”.

The firm claimed it was encouraged by the council to apply for a £50,000 grant back in October – which it won – but was “unexpectedly served with a notice of removal by yet another department” within Glasgow City Council.

The owner, Reuben Chesters, said he was “deeply disappointed” by the local authority’s lack of transparency over the decision to evict the social enterprise.

He added: “We’re exactly the type of organisation that is required to deliver local and national visions for a sustainable food future and we ought to be supported and celebrated by Glasgow City Council.

“It’s incredibly disappointing that we are not being treated as a valuable partner that can help realise their policies, plans and strategies.”

The local authority responded to say Bellahouston has not been developed as it had hoped and added that “it is unclear why Chard CIC think they should be able to take on Locavore’s lease”.

A spokesperson for Glasgow City Council said: “Locavore ceased to exist owing hundreds of thousands of pounds to its creditors, including the council. 

“As should be expected, Locavore’s lease also ended when that company was entered into administration. 

“Chard CIC has not taken on liability for any of the previous debts of Locavore and Chard CIC has been unable to demonstrate appropriate financial governance following the collapse of the previous company, Locavore.

Read more on the Scottish Sun

“Our Property Asset Management team, which manages rental arrangements in relation to council property, gave no assurance that the lease for Bellahouston Nursery would be transferred from Locavore to the new company, Chard CIC.

“We are committed to food growing and will work proactively with other organisations to ensure that the site at Bellahouston continues to contribute to the city’s food growing agenda.”

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