A group of MP’s have written to the Secretary of State for DEFRA, calling for compensation for growers and calling for garden centres to be among the first retailers to re-open.
The letter, which can be downloaded from this page, was signed by Sir John Hayes, MP for South Holland and The Deepings. It has the backing of 12 other MP’s.
The letter observes that The Dutch government has created a 600m Euro emergency fund to support their sector and that garden centres have already reopened in several European countries including Germany and the Netherlands.
The letter proposes 3 points of action to help the survival of ornamental horticulture in the UK.
- A support package of up to £250m pounds to ensure businesses have sufficient capital for future investment in stock but for the 2021 season and beyond.
- An extension in the repayment period for Government loans. Measures already announced are in many ways unsuitable for businesses within ornamental horticulture. Many growers would be unable to repay a CBILS loan within a 6-year period. The letter asks for an extension to at least 10 years to make the loans more viable.
- That garden centres, which are well placed to operate in accordance with strict social distancing measures, are included in the first wave of restriction relaxations.
Sir Johns Hayes said he would be delighted if other MPs could sign the letter.
An important area
The Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, deputised today for Boris Johnson at Prime Minister’s Questions. He was asked about garden centres being allowed to open imminently and reiterated that the current advice from SAGE is that "relaxing any of those measures - including the ones he refers to - would risk damage to the public health, our economy.”
However, he added, "It's certainly very firmly registered that this is an important area for us to look at for the future." This indicates that the national campaign to re-open garden centres has been clearly noted.