Popular Thrift Farm could be saved from closure by Milton Keynes Council

Milton Keynes Council has offered a lifeline to a much-loved community farm after broke Bucks County Council threatened to close it down.

Tuesday, 29th January 2019, 12:29 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 9:58 pm
Popular Thrift Farm in MK

Thousands of people have opposed BCC's plan to close Thrift Farm at Whaddon in order to save funds.

The farm attracts large numbers of visitors and also provides supported employment to people from MK with learning difficulties.

Today MK Labour Cabinet member Hannah O'Neill revealed she is offering the county council "a deal" to rescue the service.

Popular Thrift Farm in MK

She said: “It is sad that Tory Buckinghamshire County Council have put this service at risk, but I believe that with the right deal Labour-run MK Council could run it properly and save Thrift Farm.

"We have offered Bucks CC the hand of friendship to work with a competent Labour-run Council and save Thrift Farm. I hope they will swallow their pride and work with us to reach a deal to allow MK Council to save the service.”

Councillor O'Neill added: "“Buckinghamshire County Council is another by-word for Tory incompetence and maladministration. They are yet another Tory county on the verge of bankruptcy.

"Now they are threatening to close a much loved community service and attacking some of the most vulnerable people in society. While to parents like me see Thrift Farm as a family friendly day out, to others it’s a vital lifeline to the world of work. MK already pays for social care places at the farm, so closure has an impact on our most vulnerable too. We will not sit back and let that happen."

The farm could be saved from closure by MK Council

Leader of Buckinghamshire County Council, Martin Tett, said: “The claims made by Milton Keynes Council’s Cabinet Member, Hannah O’Neill, are inaccurate and misleading.

“The County Council has an excellent record of strong and prudent budgetary control and year on year has produced a balanced budget despite increasing financial pressures.

“Our children’s centres are fully open. We are in the middle of a full consultation process on our overarching Early Help strategy to set out its future direction. However, no decisions have yet been made.

“Next week, our Cabinet will decide whether to consult with residents about the options for the future of Thrift Farm. Again, no decision on its future has yet been made – and we want to engage with local people to achieve good, affordable future support for our vulnerable adults.

“It is the height of hypocrisy for Milton Keynes Council to accuse us of failing to consider offers from them. Our officers have repeatedly contacted them, kept them fully briefed and sought solutions – sometimes with no response back. The Labour Group’s press release does not propose any practical solutions but just seeks to make cheap and inaccurate political points. Local vulnerable people should not be used as a political football.

“We have pursued all available options for another provider to take over operations at the site and have examined carefully all proposals received, but none of the options proposed have been financially viable. We are still very open to hearing from anyone who has a credible and financially viable idea for the farm and I encourage any interested organisations to contact us.”