A family-run company that supplied fresh salads to supermarkets, restaurants and travel chains across the UK has gone out of business, costing around 260 people their jobs.
Administrators say Southern Salads, based in Tonbridge, has ceased trading with immediate effect.
They confirmed all but a handful of its approximately 260 staff have been made redundant.
Despite successfully producing over 50 tonnes of salad per day for its array of customers, the company faced an unprecedented pressure on cash flow in the immediate aftermath of last summer’s EU referendum vote.
The sudden decline in sterling was not foreseen by the company, leaving the business grappling with an immediate fall of between 10% and 20% in its purchasing power for overseas-grown salads required for the winter and early spring UK market which in turn put a severe strain on cash-flow.
With insufficient protection from its currency hedging arrangements, pressure increased on cash-flow as the business traded through to this spring.
The company was unsuccessful in negotiating any significant changes to its pricing terms with its suppliers in mainland Europe, while also being unable to pass on its cost increases to supermarkets and its other customers.
The company relies on European suppliers for fresh vegetables and fruit from the Netherlands and Poland in the north to France, Italy and Spain in the south.
Cllr Antony Hook, South East Liberal Democrats Brexit Spokesman, said;
"Liberal Democrats stand by all the people who have lost their jobs at Southern Salads.
This business's closure is reported to result from the fall in the pound following the Brexit vote.
The people who led the campaign for Brexit promised the public this would not happen, they promised lives would get better.
Instead, Brexit inflation is costing jobs as well as driving up prices for families' cost of living.
The public were misled. We need to stop Brexit. We need to have another vote when the terms of exit are known so people can decide whether this is what we really want."
KCC is suggesting the 58 route should become more frequent but at the same time proposes that, in effect, the service would not run eastwards beyond West Malling except to collect passengers from East Malling village in order to take them to West Malling to change buses. It would no longer serve Larkfield on the A20. Whilst more frequent journeys would be welcome, the loss of the route to Maidstone Hospital would be a blow to local people.
Cllr Trudy Dean would like to hear your views about this. Please email Trudy at [email protected]
The Heritage Lottery Fund has given £1.4 million to the "Old Chalk New Downs" project which will see North Downs chalk habitats restored and improvements to the paths leading onto the Downs from surrounding parishes like Larkfield. The North Downs is the ridge of chalk hills overlooking villages of Trottiscliffe, Birling and Ryarsh. They stretch from Farnham in Surrey and end in the famous white chalk cliffs of Dover. Many nationally rare plants and insects including butterflies are found on chalk hills.
David Thornewell has been supporting this project. East Malling and Larkfield Parish Council offered up to £300 towards waymarking the paths in the northern area of the parish especially to try to improve the links in and out of the country park to the surrounding path network such as the bridge over the A228 out of the park and connecting to Brook Lane; and the paths at Abbey Meads and Snodland Common area between the railway and the river.
It's fantastic that the launch of the project will be held on October 15th at Leybourne Lakes. Come along and meet the people involved. You and your children can also learn about identifying wildlife and plants and maybe become 'chalkland champions'
See event poster below for more details.
On Tuesday, TMBC published its response to the 1,300 replies it received from residents on the draft Local Plan which sets out development in the Borough till 2030. TMBC officers make very few proposals to change the views set out in the draft Local Plan.
1. They will be sensitive to the need to keep Kings Hill and East Malling separate, but apparently still committed to developing Kings Hill further out into Broadwater Farm, despite having received the most objections to this proposal. They may perhaps not propose the use of the entire site offered.
2. The Borough notes high support for extending the Green Belt eastwards towards East Malling to the bypass. They also report having received the highest number of requests for an even greater extension covering more of the open farmland between East and West Malling. These included:
219 residents supporting West Malling Parish Council's submission,
199 residents supporting the two online petitions for a further extension of the Green Belt,
and 30 residents supported the Offham Road residents' submission.
3. Limited areas of Mr Betts farmland fronting onto Offham Road West Malling south of Fartherwell Avenue will for the first time be considered for development.
4. TMBC continue to support the development of former quarry land between Borough Green and M20.
5. Land at Aylesford Newsprint, land between London Road and the railway line West Malling, and land to the east of Hermitage Lane have all been ruled out, but only because ordinary planning applications have been submitted for these sites which, if granted, would mean they were not available as Local Plan sites but would count against the overall number of houses required.
It appears that the Borough Council is still opposed to housing on Aylesford Newsprint, and this may persuade developers not to wait any longer for a TMBC decision (waited for over a year) from TMBC and go straight for an appeal hearing before a government inspector.
This is the latest update on the SGN gas works in New Hythe Lane. I have spoken with KCC and SGN officers. KCC is still awaiting a reply from KPMG on whether they will allow Bellingham Way, which they own, to be re-opened temporarily during the works. Even if they do so, it will be at drivers' own risk so all drivers will need to check whether their car insurance will cover them if they use this private road.
Cllr Trudy Dean will update Bulletin readers as new information becomes available. If you would like to sign up to Trudy's email bulletin send an email to her at [email protected]
County Councillor for West Malling, East Malling & Larkfield
SGN is on track to complete phase one of their work and reopen the section of New Hythe Lane between the A20 and Morrisons’ car park by Monday 14 August.
They are aware that some drivers are not adhering to the signed diversion via Leybourne Way and the A228. Instead, drivers are instead using Bell Lane as a shortcut through to the leisure centre, Tesco and the M20. Not only is this causing traffic jams along Bell Lane, but there are safety concerns as some vehicles are mounting the pavement. Along with SGN, I would urge drivers to keep to the signed diversion to ensure the safety of yourselves, fellow motorists and pedestrians.
SGN is in discussion with Kent County Council to see whether it’s possible to merge the second and third phases to further prevent Bell Lane being used as a cut through. This would mean that from Monday 14 August, New Hythe Lane would be closed between Morrison’s car park and Laburnum Drive. This also means that there would be no access to New Hythe Lane from Laburnum Drive from that point, two weeks’ earlier than planned.
SGN hope to receive confirmation from KCC regarding the change in phasing within the next few days. They will then update their website (sgn.co.uk) and share this information with me. In the meantime, SGN will look to improve signage in Bell Lane, New Hythe Lane and Lunsford Lane.
SGN has assured me that they’re committed to completing their upgrade of the gas network as quickly and safely as possible. In support of that, I have urged KCC to grant permission for the merging of phase 2 and 3 on safety grounds. I have also contacted Amazon to ask them to instruct their drivers to avoid hold ups by using A228 not New Hythe Lane, Lunsford Lane or Bell Lane for the next four weeks.
TMACTIV have donated their office defibrillator to the Paydens Pharmacy in Martin Square so that it is available to the public more of the time. Thanks, guys!
The Borough Council is warning householders to make sure any rubbish leaving their homes via contractors’ vehicles is going to an approved disposal site. Fly tipped waste, sometimes closing entire roads, is costing Councils a lot of money to clear. So they are now checking the waste carefully to see if the owner can be traced and charged.
If it’s your rubbish, you should get your contractor to tell you in writing where it’s going or you could end up paying a very big bill.
Aylesford Parish Council and David Thornewell are supporting the reinstatement of the footpath between Forstal Road, Ditton and the River Medway. An application for housing has been submitted there which includes the site where the footpath previously ran
The former Royal Mail offices next to Maidstone East railway station have opened as a new 250 space car park between 5am and midnight, charging from £1.10 for one hour to £6 for more than four hours. Charges can be paid by card. Spaces will be available for public use.
Enforcement of parking charges at Manor Park West Malling will be by Automatic Number Plate recognition from Monday 3rd July and Penalty Charges will be made. Parking Charges remain the same at £1.30 Monday to Friday, £2 at weekend and Bank Holidays and £50 for an annual Season ticket.