Surrey

Norbury Park sawmill workers to lose jobs

Norbury Park Wood Products (from Surrey Wildlife Trust)
Image caption Norbury Park Wood Products makes and sells garden furniture and sawn timber

Seven people will be out of work, with two losing the tied accommodation that goes with their jobs, when a Surrey sawmill company is shut down.

Surrey Wildlife Trust (SWT) is to close Norbury Park Wood Products, which produces sawn timber and garden furniture, on 31 March.

The trust, which leases Norbury Park near Dorking from the county council, said it was very sorry for the staff.

But it said it could no longer cover financial losses made by the company.

SWT has also told tenant farmer Nick Bullen that he must leave Swanworth Farm when his lease expires this summer.

Mr Bullen has said the move will make him homeless and destroy his business.

'Flagship site'

The sawmill and farm occupy part of the 1,300 acres of Norbury Park, in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which SWT has leased for eight years.

"We have great plans for the future of Norbury Park, which we want to improve and invest in," said SWT chief executive Nigel Davenport.

"We want to make it a flagship site for Surrey."

Mr Davenport said SWT wanted to graze its own cattle on land at Swanworth Farm. The closure of the sawmill, which lost £50,000 this year, was a separate issue.

"We have been supporting losses at this company for some years," said Mr Davenport. "Unfortunately there is a limit to how far this can go.

"We have been as affected as other people by government cuts and cuts in public services and we have had to prioritise where our money goes."

Sawmill customers have been told existing orders will be met but no new orders will be accepted.

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