Below is a briefing from Council Officers on the crisis facing Gorgie City Farm. My political group is adamant that if the farm has a future the Council should do what it can to support it and that the Ward Councillors (with their excellent connections to the local Community) should lead on it. Councillor Donald Wilson from my group was clear that he is far from giving up hope on the future of the farm.
The organisation has been in receipt of a grant from Communities and Families (2016-19 Grant programme, extended to March 2020) with an annual value of £109,214 paid in quarterly instalments (the last payment will be due in early January 2020).
The organisation rents the land from the Council and the costs of the lease were agreed at Finance and Resources Committee on 23rd March 2017. The land is not for sale.
The Farm first made Council Officers aware of their situation in a telephone call on 31st October and on 1st November an Insolvency Practitioner was appointed. Council officers have had an initial conversation with the practitioner (4th November) and below are the key points from that conversation.
- The board at Gorgie City Farm made the decision to seek an insolvency practitioner because the cash in the bank was not sufficient to meet their ongoing costs.
- The role of the practitioner will be to ensure the proper winding up of the company.
- The costs of continuing to employ staff to keep the Farm trading/open was too great and so the Farm is now closed to the public, however there is cover to ensure the livestock are cared for.
- The Insolvency practitioner is confident that all the animals will be re-homed. There have been numerous offers to take the animals.
- The assets of the company are being secured to ensure the farm is in as strong a position as possible to move forward if it can.
- There have been some offers of interest in running the farm/using the property from a number of parties, however it is too early for the practitioner to assess the full merits of these approaches and it is intended that this would be done in partnership with the Council as the landowner.
- A further role of the practitioner is to ascertain how the company got into this position.
- The Council Leader, Deputy Leader and officers are meeting the Insolvency Practitioner this week. Thereafter, the Council will convene a meeting later this week to discuss the way forward.