CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Staff given redundancy warnings amid Kentish Town City Farm cash crisis

Workers prepared to take pay cut but raise questions over board's performance

18 April, 2019 — By Tom Foot

FARM workers say they are prepared to take a pay cut to stave off “an unprecedented crisis” at one of the borough’s most popular community attractions.

The Kentish Town City Farm board of trustees said yesterday (Wednesday) that it was with “great regret” that all 12 staff are “at risk of redundancy” after three consecutive years of losses that are expected to total more than £100,000.

But workers say the board are to blame for fundraising failures over the past two years that have put “the farm’s existence at risk”.

In an email to the trust board, the workers said: “Inevitably, these redundancies will hit our most vulnerable beneficiaries as services will have to be cut. Several staff have agreed to take a cut to their paid days worked and work as volunteers during those times ahead.”

Kentish Town City Farm, in Cressfield Close, is a community charity set up in 1972 that aims to help city people connect with nature. It gives thousands of young people a chance to view farmyard animals up close.

Its staff, who have joined the GMB union, have put forward a detailed alternative financial plan to the board’s proposal that could halve the number of staff working at the farm.

The letter to the board also raises serious concerns about the “day-to-day accounts” and questions why directors had failed to “secure a single grant of more than £10,000” in the past two years.

Last year, the New Journal reported that the board were trying to evict nightwatchman Terry Child, who has worked for the farm for 18 years, from a house on the farm land.

A statement from the farm’s trustees said: “It is with considerable regret that staff at Kentish Town City have been placed at risk of redundancy. The farm’s finances mean that significant savings must be found to ensure its future sustainability. In the year to March 2017 expenditure exceeded income by £24,703, and in the year to March 2018 expenditure exceeded income by £46,503. Whilst accounts to 31 March 2019 are being finalised it is likely that expenditure will exceed income by approximately £40,000.”

It added: “Projected income for the current financial year indicates that without significant reduction in expenditure there will be a fourth year when the farm will operate a deficit. Considerable effort is being committed to fundraising but there remains a risk of redundancies in order to reduce the farm’s financial exposure. Whilst consultation with staff continues it is not appropriate to comment further.”

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