Staples defended over expansion plans

Staples of Wrangle who are expanding to take on more foreign workers.
Staples of Wrangle who are expanding to take on more foreign workers.

Council bosses have stood by a food firm which came under fire in the national press after its planning application for 115 caravans on its Wrangle site for EU students was passed.

As reported in last week’s Standard, Boston Borough Council’s committee agreed the plans on November 11.

It has since been criticised by UKIP candidate Robin Hunter-Clarke in the national press for sourcing staff through a government scheme from the EU.

Borough leader Coun Peter Bedford said: “This began as a Government scheme and is an exemplar of good practice. Most who come are students – they do not take local housing or drive up local rents. They are young and fit and there are no welfare issues. They are looked after very well by Staples who provide good facilities for all their needs.”

The firm, based at Marsh Farm, Sea Lane, Wrangle, was given approval by the council to make its 63 caravans and amenity building permanent, while also adding another 53 caravans to the site.

The company currently employs up to 378 students but, with the extra caravans, this could rise to 650 at peak points.

Its planning application suggested the extra would be sourced ‘directly and predominantly from Romanian and Bulgarian colleges and universities’

A Staples spokesman said: “Staples is an expanding business that continues to provide additional employment in the area.

“Our policy is to employ staff directly, whenever possible.

“We have recruited seasonal agricultural workers for 7 years (initially through the home office scheme) using HOPS.

“HOPS recruit staff from Europe and the UK , mainly from universities and colleges, working with several hundred farms in the UK.

“Providing accommodation means that there is no pressure on local housing. Staff have no dependants and hence do not put pressure on local services.”

Staples’ planning documents suggested it wants to use student labour to help cut down on its 240 agency workers, which costs £3.5 million a year.