OUTWELL: Farmer told he must remove mobile homes after West Norfolk Council ruling
PUBLISHED: 15:32 05 January 2009 | UPDATED: 08:48 02 June 2010
A FARMER has been ordered to remove nine mobile homes intended for foreign workers after using some of them for unemployed English people claiming benefits. John Kok cleared derelict greenhouses to site the mobile homes on land at The Vineries, Wisbech Ro
A FARMER has been ordered to remove nine mobile homes intended for foreign workers after using some of them for unemployed English people claiming benefits.
John Kok cleared derelict greenhouses to site the mobile homes on land at The Vineries, Wisbech Road, Outwell, 18 months ago to house temporary EU workers to help with his seasonal bedding plants, pumpkin and courgette crops.
"We have in the past used English workers but find that it is difficult to obtain enough at the right time," he told West Norfolk Council. "Foreign workers are available for this sort of work so this is the reason we created the caravan park in 2006. It is very convenient to have them on site as the time worked can vary."
However an investigation by the council has revealed that "some mobiles have been occupied by unemployed persons living on DHSS benefit payments who have no agricultural status with the site." The council said this was clear during a site visit "and the applicant openly agreed this was the case."
Planning assistant Mervyn Boughton said: "It is likely that half the mobiles were occupied in this way. There are no records to identify who occupied each mobile home and when, and no council control of the caravan site."
"There is no agricultural justification for the mobile homes having a permanent standing on this land."
Mr Kok, who farms some 50 hectares with sons Paul and Jonathan, said he envisaged only EU workers using the mobile homes this year to help with 40,000 boxes of bedding plants, and 250,000 hanging basket plants plus the sowing of 150,000 courgette seeds and 250,000 pumpkin seeds.
He added that he needed foreign workers and had plumbed in the caravans and put television aerials up "and with only two people per caravan, this makes their stay a pleasant one.
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Wisbech Standard. Click the link in the orange box above for details.