Is Thrift Farm about to be saved?

Could the known provider save thrift farm?
Could the known provider save thrift farm?

Buckinghamshire County Council will be meeting on September 9 after an 'unknown provider' has issued a 11th hour bid to save Thrift Farm.

Thrift Farm has been supporting adults with learning difficulties for over 40 years.

Their supported employment scheme helps people with learning difficulties develop key skills and gain the confidence they need to go on to find employment.

After news of the potential closure, a petition was set up entitled 'save thrift farm', which amassed nearly 7,000 signatories.

Following a robust consultation, which included a call for business plans to provide a service at Thrift Farm, the Council's Cabinet will be considering the future of Thrift Farm on Monday 9 September 2019.

There were 10,416 engagements as part of the consultation process.

These included:

 10,111 signatures across three petitions (6,889; 2,677; 545)

 152 survey responses received from customers (85), service users and their families (50) and others (17)

 37 attendees at service user focus groups  17 video diary responses from service users

 37 attendees at the engagement meetings

 57 additional written responses

 5 phone calls

Lin Hazell, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: "Now that officers have reviewed all viable plans for services to continue at Thrift Farm, we are very close to deciding on its future.

"This has been an unsettling time for service users at the farm.

"I would like to commend them for their dignity and patience throughout - and very much hope we can give them a future they deserve.

"We had an overwhelming and, in the main, positive response to the consultation. I would like to thank everyone who took part. Their views are important to us and will be carefully considered as part of the decision making process."

Whatever decision is taken by the Cabinet a 'call in' period has to elapse before the decision can be implemented. The 'call-in' period for decisions taken on 9 September will end on 16 September 2019 after which the Council will issue a full statement.

Thrift farm faced several issues in it's current state, including:

 Requiring considerable investment in order to meet ongoing health and safety requirements and to make it into a viable commercial venture

 Running costs were beyond the means of the current County Council

BCC said in their report that most other local authorities have either closed this type of provision or transferred it out to be run by the voluntary/commercial sector that are better placed to provide the growth and investment to secure a strong future for the service.

Have you been affected? let us know - thomas.bamford@jpress.co.uk