Season of goodwill

As the 'season of goodwill to all' approaches why don’t we extend that season to rest of the year and beyond indefinitely?

This is not a political message but the major topic of discussion amongst all local employers is where are the people to fill the job vacancies we have now, and in the future here in Gloucestershire. It is well documented that we have a hospitality industry that has historically depended on skills of a truly international labour force and struggled with recruitment but today that has reached crisis point.

As our business has grown over the last 20 years we have, like many manufacturing businesses, particularly those in rural locations, benefited from the influx of a European workforce that has bought their skills and work ethic. A large percentage have settled and made their homes here, married and brought up families locally, and progressed both economically and in their work life. We have a policy of promotion from within and invest time and training with all our staff. Nearly all our senior management team are staff that have worked their way through the factory. Today we have a workforce made up of engineers, electricians, fish filleters, forklift drivers, packers, despatchers, accounts, HR, quality assurance, IT, purchasing, sales, shop assistants, waiting staff, chefs and we have vacancies in almost all of these departments, a sign of the challenging times ahead.

The Europeans have stopped coming, partly as a result of Brexit and the future uncertainty about the UK’s policy on employment of foreign citizens, but something more sinister has happened, and it's something that's going on unnoticed by most people, myself included. The Brexit vote was the sanction that a few, and they are just a few, in our community needed to air their bigoted and unpleasantness towards many of our workforce because of their European or overseas origins. It has made people feel uncomfortable and many are thinking twice about their future here.

In the true spirit of Christmas I extend my warmth and happiness to all of those that work for us, our customers and all in our community. Diversity and understanding is what makes us strong. Let us make this a season of goodwill not just one for Christmas but the future.

The new Barn shop, restaurant and café are now fully operational. The shop and café opened some weeks ago but opening the restaurant every day has just taken that little bit longer as staff have acclimatised themselves to the much larger new building.

It has been quite a journey these last 3 years watching the project develop to become a fascinating low carbon and local architectural gem. The sustainable and zero carbon footprint story was detailed in the last newsletter but the really great news is seeing the building at long last in use and working as we had intended. We've taken things very slowly over the past month by just getting the shop and café operational. The last couple of weeks we've combined that with the restaurant opening at lunch times and our usual Friday evenings. From this weekend the restaurant shall be open 7 days for lunch plus Friday and Saturday nights.

We had hoped to have the website revamped and an online shopping page ready for Christmas but that has now turned into a project for the New Year. It is still possible to take advantage of our next day courier delivery service by phoning the office during office hours where our sales team will be only too happy to take any gift or hamper orders for Christmas. If you have someone special or someone you want to say thank you to there is nothing like having and unexpected gift of tasty gourmet delights delivered to your door.

The commercial wild salmon fishery of the River Severn is perilously close to closing for ever. A fishery that has been in existence for over 2000 years. The fishermen and the Environment Agency have become embroiled in a battle of historic statistics and genetics with each outcome the other returns to uncover another scientific spin to refute the others findings. It's time to adopt a more wide reaching view of sustainability than the one that considers only the environmental aspect.

The recognised three pillars of sustainability (Environmental, Social and Economic) need to overlap harmoniously, meeting the needs of today without compromising the health of the resource for future generations. While the River Severn supports one of the country's healthiest returning salmon populations why close a commercial fishery that takes less than 200 fish a year. If the river is truly in decline then it seems only reasonable that the rod and line fishery should relinquish their fishing rights as it kills hundreds more salmon than the commercial salmon fishery.

To win the argument we need local political and public support before this heritage fishery and resource is consigned to the history books.

The Barn image