Brexit delays mean Steve's chicks fail to come home to roost

Steve Wigginton

Steve Wigginton runs a Fenland poultry business that imports into the UK from France. Picture: HARRY RUTTER - Credit: Archant

The frustrated owner of a family-run Fenland poultry business has had to cancel all of this week's work because of extra customs paperwork introduced after Brexit.

Steve Wigginton imports chicks into the UK from France and has not been able to do any trips this year because the new administrative processes have held him up.

He said: “The whole situation is ludicrous. We’ve had to drop two trips this week, and Monday’s isn’t looking likely now.

“Before January 1, everything was so simple and the processes involved just a few steps. Now, we have to fill in 20 to 30 different documents for a single job.

“It’s crazy – and the government support is poor.”

Frustrated with the lack of support, Steve even contacted North East Cambridgeshire MP Steve Barclay’s office yesterday (Tuesday) for help.

He said: “They tried, but I couldn’t open one of the documents sent to me so I asked them for help with that.

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“But it wouldn’t open on their computers either, so what hope have any of us got? There are lots of us in this situation at the moment.”

Steve, who runs S & T Poultry with his wife Tina, added another part of the challenge has been completing the paperwork.

He said: “You start with one form, and then you need a reference number from another form, and then another, and it goes on...

“Before you know it, you’re led down a garden path with a hedge and a massive brick wall at the end which you can’t pass.

“The guidance on the Government website is inadequate, and everyone on the helplines pass you to a different department.”

He added: “One person said I should employ an agent to do the work. But we’re a small family business, we can’t afford that.

“It really feels like our needs have been completely overlooked, and we’re seriously missing out.”

In February last year, Steve was served with eviction notices for two caravans at his site on the outskirts of Wisbech.

It meant his son and two grandchildren had to leave. Steve said one of Fenland District Council’s reasons was because it queried the sustainability of his business.

He added: “This week’s frustrations have been an extra worry on our plates. I don’t know what we will do if delays like this continue."