FRUIT farm bosses have spoken out to reassure villagers they will not be relocating despite fears over Brexit.

Residents feared the worst when Wilkin & Sons chiefs said it would consider moving some of its company from Tiptree if workers from across Europe were not able to pick their fruit in future.

However, although bosses have admitted long-term concerns, they have clarified there no plans to leave the vilalge.

Chris Newenham, joint managing director, said: “We are managing this season. Our concerns are for the long term, 2020 and beyond as to how we continue to secure a viable seasonal workforce on the farm.

“While we have no intention of moving we need to ensure our operation will continue seamlessly in Tiptree.

“We, and the fruit, vegetable and flower growers across the UK need to know we can secure a seasonal workforce to pick the crops to feed UK consumers.”

Wilkin & Sons has operated in Tiptree since 1885.

Since then, its jams and produce are enjoyed around the world and even have the royal seal of approval from the Queen.

Wilkin & Sons said earlier this month they were struggling to attract much-needed fruit pickers from the continent in recent years, with numbers falling.

The jam makers employ 300 seasonal workers a year, on top of its 400 permanent staff.

Bosses fear the uncertainty around Brexit is causing a negative impact. They have called for politicians to reinstate a seasonal agricultural workers scheme to help them.

The previous agreement was rescinded in 2013, which has led to a less reliable workforce. Strawberries, raspberries, cherries and greengages and plums are all grown at the Wilkin & Sons farm while fruit such as oranges are brought in from abroad.

While bosses have said their jam base will remain in Tiptree, they have not entirely ruled out buying more fruit from the continent if the seasonal workforce issue has not been solved.

Mr Newenham added: “We offer some of the best facilities in the UK for seasonal workers and we look after people, which is why so many of them return to the farm year after year.

“However unless the political will is there to help all the fruit and vegetable growers be flexible and recruit seasonal workers from other countries – we will all have to consider our options which could mean importing more of the fruit we need.”