Disappointment at farm machinery sale

Hundreds of buyers turned for up for a farm machinery sale in West Norfolk to find that the auction was cancelled at the last minute.One of the country's largest organic farmers, Organic Farming Castle Acre Ltd, told the auctioneer Michael Hamilton, of Cheffins, that the sale could not proceed at 10am on Thursday.

Hundreds of buyers turned for up for a farm machinery sale in West Norfolk to find that the auction was cancelled at the last minute.

One of the country's largest organic farmers, Organic Farming Castle Acre Ltd, told the auctioneer Michael Hamilton, of Cheffins, that the sale could not proceed at 10am on Thursday.

Mr Hamilton told potential bidders at Manor Farm, Castle Acre, near King's Lynn, on part of the Holkham estate that "unresolved legal issues" had forced the cancellation of the sale.

"With the advice that we have been given by our lawyers, it was very obvious that we could not go ahead with the sale," said Mr Hamilton, who now hopes that a new auction can proceed early in the new year.


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The landlord, the Holkham estate, had taken legal proceedings to recover total rents arrears of more than £200,000, which had been unpaid since October 2006.

Peter Williams, who is an agricultural partner with Bristol-based solicitors Burges Salmon, for the estate, said: "Organic Farming (Castle Acre) Ltd had failed to make its rent payments from October 2005 and this meant their debt as a tenant had risen to £235,000.

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"Like any business, the Holkham estate had to manage this debt situation. This included the company agreeing to surrender the tenancy at Castle Acre with effect on December 25, 2006. This followed serving a petition for the winding up of the company on August 18, 2006 following its failure to pay rent arrears.

The estate granted a farm business tenancy for an organic farming operation on almost 1,600 acres at Manor Farm in 2001 to Terence Bird, who hailed from Leicestershire. He had farmed about 1,000 acres in south-west France growing organic crops and returned to Britain to start the new enterprise, let after a competitive tender involving more than 40 applicants.

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