Staff at a Shropshire farm shop today claimed they had been locked in by a neighbouring garden centre in the latest twist in a row between the pair.
Workers from Green Fields farm shop in Donnington, Telford, said Wyevale had locked a gate across an access road preventing them from leaving. Wyevale said it had locked the gate but staff thought the shop was empty at the time.
Green Fields general manager Natalie Walker said: “We came to leave at 6.15pm on Thursday and the gates were locked and we couldn’t get out.
“Fortunately Wyevale have got overnight builders at the moment and they let us out.”
Miss Walker said she and her staff had closed the shop at the usual time but when they reached the gates they found they were trapped.
Green Fields owns its own land but has to use an access road across land leased from a local farmer by Wyevale.
A spokeswoman for Wyevale said that staff had believed that the shop was empty when they locked the gate.
“Last night the gates were locked at 6.20pm as usual,” she said. “Everyone on the site, including garden centre staff and the farm shop staff, is aware of the time the gate is shut. This was business as usual, as it has been for the last few weeks.
“The people who close the gates always glance over at the farm shop and all the lights were off and it appeared that no one was there. There was certainly no malicious intent. It’s a complementary business to Wyevale, in many ways.”
Miss Walker said she hoped the current dispute over access to the site could soon be sorted out.
“We want someone to pick up the phone and speak to us but they’ve said all contact has to be through the lawyers,” she said.
“The general staff are fabulous, from yard lads, to cafe staff, to shop floor workers. We’ve always got on great, loaning each other our equipment and generally helping each other out when needed. We feel sorry for any of the current, friendly staff for any backlash that they may be receiving from all of this – it’s not their fault.”
An internet petition calling for the garden centre to stop putting restrictions on the farm shop’s access has gained more than 1,100 signatures in three days.