HTA react on garden centre closures and seasonal workers pilot scheme

Below, the reactions of the HTA to the garden center closures and the seasonal workers pilot scheme.

HTA react to announcement by First Minister on garden centre closures
Reacting to news that Scottish garden centres will force to close from Boxing Day, James Clark, Director of Policy and Communications at the Horticultural Trades Association, said: 

“The news that Scotland has decided to tighten the definition of what is included as ‘non-essential retail’ to include garden centres is hugely disappointing. Although the new strain of the virus is concerning and clearly something that demands action, we firmly believe garden centres are essential for enabling better mental and physical wellbeing for people who are trying to manage the impact of restrictions on daily life.  

There is little to no evidence that garden centres are a covid transmission risk - in fact they provide large and airy environments, which have been enhanced by the introduction of first-class, tailored social distancing measures - and should be able to stay open. Allowing ‘click and collect’ services provides only the barest of business needs – we know from the last lockdown that only 15-20% of sales were achieved in this way. 

For Scottish retailers and growers - whose route to market depends on garden centres - going into the key Spring season on the back of a long lockdown period will be hugely damaging to their businesses. Growers are putting planting plans into operation now. We need the Scottish Government to recognise this and take the appropriate action to help safeguard the future of our industry. We will be seeking meetings with Ministers urgently, with a view to getting garden centres open as soon as possible in the new year.”  

HTA react to an announcement from Defra on the seasonal workers pilot scheme
Commenting on the announcement from Defra that the seasonal workers pilot scheme extension will not include ornamental horticulture, James Clark – Director of Policy and Communications at the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) said:

“The ornamental horticulture industry has been totally ignored by Government in this announcement. This is a sector that generates over £1.5bn in GDP per annum, underpinning the much wider £24bn ornamental horticulture industry. The Government has monumentally failed to recognise our sector as a key UK production industry, it has ignored our needs.

We are committed to increasing UK production, business owners are investing in their businesses, but we need the necessary labour to support this expansion. We estimate that 9,400 of those employed in the sector are seasonal workers, of which between 4,500 and 7,000 do not live in the UK year-round. This would have been a modest part of the overall expansion of the Seasonal Workers pilot scheme and given a huge boost to our industry. We are committed to working with the Government on a Horticulture Strategy to help deliver economic growth, but this statement from Government does little to build our confidence. We will be taking this up with Defra officials and Ministers to get the ornamental sector included in any future review.”

For more information:
Horticultural Trades Association
Horticulture House
19 High Street
West Berkshire
T: +44 (0)118 930 3132
Fax: +44 (0)118 932 3453
NGGV: +44 (0)118 930 2092


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