Fens farm says mobile homes needed for migrant workers as they can’t recruit locals prepared to work the long hours required

PUBLISHED: 13:09 30 May 2014

Existing caravans at Somerset Farm, Cant's Drove, Murrow

Existing caravans at Somerset Farm, Cant's Drove, Murrow

Archant

A Fenland farm hoping to be allowed to keep mobile homes to house its temporary work force says they are needed because no casual labour is available locally.

Dale and Burgoyne Ltd of Somerset Farm, Murrow, told Fenland planners: “It is not possible to employ casual labour locally. As with many businesses within farming we use migrant and non local labour”.

And the farming firm said it was unlikely local people would want the long hours associated with the jobs.

“The viability of our business relies upon the implementation of intensive farming methods which by their nature attract migrant labour as these workers accept the long working hours required,” it said in a report to Fenland Council.

The farm, which says it began work on the mobile homes in 2011 but only started using them last December, has been told by council officials it must have planning permission for them.

The 100 acre farm rears 1,300 head of beef cattle, harvests around 12,000 tonnes of wheat and barley straw and operates a 500kwh anaerobic digestion plant.

Somerset Farm has 12 full time employees “made of up local, non local and migrant workers” but in their application to Fenland Council say the labour requirement is not constant.

“At times as little as three workers are required: at the peak of the season 12 workers are required. At quiet times of the year accommodated employees go home for extended rest periods, while locally employed staff covers their duties,” says the company.

The farm says their problem is that there is no affordable accommodation locally and even it was it would be “unlikely to have the flexible arrangements required for the employment of the casual worker”.

Fenland planners are now considering the application.

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