CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Kentish Town City Farm board member quits following ‘social media criticism’

All staff have been given a redundancy warning as part of cuts plan

27 May, 2019 — By Tom Foot

A MEMBER of Kentish Town City Farm’s board has quit following “press coverage and social media criticism” over an escalating cuts dispute.

Oliver Peachey, one of four on the charity’s board of trustees, told the New Journal that he now hoped the board and farm staff would work together to “find a positive way forward”.

All farm staff have been placed “at risk” of redundancy by the board after three years of financial losses at the farm in Cressfield Close. A final package is due to be put out for consultation next week, but concerns have risen that services will be scaled back, with some animals removed, including the farm’s horses and Shirley the cow.

In a statement, Mr Peachey said: “It had always been my intention to step down in May as I moved out of London a year ago. I seriously considered extending but felt my involvement was no longer possible due to the press coverage and social media criticism.  “I conducted my handover with the chair last week and hope the board and staff can work together to forge a positive way forward for the farm.”

Last week, the New Journal reported on questions that had been raised about a mystery bloc of farm members who joined shortly before a deadline for new applications. Twenty new members, who have voting rights at farm meetings, do not live in Camden, according to a list of new names.

Staff who have been campaigning for a rethink on a programme of cuts said the new members outnumbered “genuine patrons”.

This could prevent them calling a future vote of no confidence in the board over staff redundancy proposals, campaigners said, if such a motion could not secure the support of new recruits. The board has declined to comment on this issue.

Mr Peachey was the longest-serving member of the board. A statement from a group of farm workers campaigning against the cuts said: “It now leaves only three people with little current or historical knowledge of the farm and its patrons deciding its future.”

A community campaign by regular visitors and young people who use the farm has continued to grow. A Camden Council official is working with the farm board on its cuts programme.

Last week, the board of trustees said: “During this difficult time for staff and all of those interested in the farm’s future, the board and key stakeholders do not feel it is appropriate to comment on any issue relating to the farm.”

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