Monday, July 15, 2024

Dozens of jobs ‘at risk’ as Glasgow firm ‘facing eviction’ from council

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Locavore claims Glasgow City Council has sent a notice of removal for its organic farm based at Bellahouston Nursery.

The site is used for most of Locavore’s work, with plans to harvest tomatoes, cucumbers, beans and kale in the coming months.

But the firm will now have until the end of the month to vacate the premises, STV is reporting. 

They fear the move means it may be forced to close both its shops in Glasgow, risking around 80 jobs.

Founded in the city in 2011, Locavore is a not-for-profit social enterprise that seeks to build a more sustainable local food system.

The company operated four zero-waste organic supermarkets in Govanhill, Partick, Kirkintilloch and Edinburgh, and an online vegetable box delivery service.

The firm previously went into administration in January and was left owing unpaid debt to the council

It is now operated by Chard Holding Group CIC which the town hall officials say has not taken responsibility for the debt but wants to continue the previous firm’s lease.

Locavore claimed 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 company said they were encouraged to apply for a £50,000 council grant, which it won, but were then “unexpectedly served with a notice of removal by yet another department” at the local authority.

Locavore said its farm hosts 120 community-growing plots and supplies nearly 2,000 households across central Scotland.

Reuben Chesters (Image: Newsquest)

Reuben Chesters, founder of Locavore, told STV: “We are deeply disappointed and frustrated by the lack of transparency regarding the decision-making process, and the unwillingness of the council to explore solutions with us in spite of awareness of the existential threat this position poses to our social enterprise.

“The current position has been reached through a catalogue of delays and errors by various Council departments since October 2023.

“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.”

A spokesperson for Glasgow City Council told STV: “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.”

The local authority said the site at 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”.

The spokesperson continued: “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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