5 January 2001

Councils £25,000 offer an insult

A TENANT farmer, whose local authority landlord could make £20m from the sale of the farm and land he rents, has slammed as derisory a £25,000 compensation package offered by the authority.

Church Farm on the outskirts of Leicester has been run by Chris Dilks family for 30 years. Mr Dilks took over the 50ha (124-acre) holding from his father and now he and his Dutch wife, Elise, run a 160-strong Continental cross suckler cow-herd.

The couple, who live in the three-bedroom farmhouse with their toddler son, Oliver, have been told that the house and farm are needed for redevelopment into a housing and light industrial area.

"I have been offered £25,000 by the council, and that is derisory after over 30 years of farming this land, when you think they are going to make millions.

"All the council is required to give me, by statute, is seven years rent but they stand to make a packet. I have tried to buy the house, but the right-to-buy scheme for council tenants does not apply to agricultural tenants. It is a nightmare."

A spokesman for Leicester City Council said: "We are in negotiation over compensation, so we do not want to comment further. The time that he will be required to leave is also under negotiation." &#42

The Dilks family could lose their home and livelihood.