flamingo land

Flamingo Land: £186,000 Tory donor firm failed to pay minimum wage, claims UK Government

The company behind the controversial Flamingo Land proposed development at Loch Lomond, which has given nearly £200,000 to the Conservative Party, allegedly failed to pay the minimum wage.

Flamingo Land Limited, which donated £186,000 to the Tories between 2014 and 2022 – including £50,000 since the last general election – was named by the Department for Business and Trade for failing to pay £3,033 to four of its workers.

The department said in February that Flamingo Land, and more than 500 other firms, had breached national minimum wage laws.

Flamingo Land claims its £40m holiday resort bid, which includes a waterpark and monorail, would create 200 full-time, part-time and seasonal jobs, and pay the Scottish living wage.

A local MSP said the firm’s alleged underpayment of staff “proves those commitments aren’t worth the paper they’re written on”. But Flamingo Land claimed the underpayments were due to “a processing issue” which impacted “a very small number” of senior workers with higher rates of pay.

The UK Government would not verify the company’s explanation as it does not comment on individual cases. The businesses paid what they owed to staff and faced financial penalties of up to 200 per cent of their underpayment, it said in February.

Flamingo Land’s latest bid

Flamingo Land first lodged plans for a resort in 2018. But its proposals faced strong opposition, both local and nationally, and were unanimously rejected by councillors.

The company’s latest updated plans, lodged under the name Lomond Banks, were not opposed by West Dunbartonshire Council in April, following advice from council officials.

A majority of councillors supported a Labour motion which allows the council to object to the bid at later stages of the planning process.

Some worry the development will engulf green space, spoil views to Loch Lomond, ramp up traffic in the area, and ultimately taint one of Scotland’s two national parks.

National Trust for Scotland, the Woodland Trust and Ramblers Scotland have voiced concerns, while the Scottish Environment Protection Agency argued part of the site would create a flood risk.

A Scottish Green Party petition opposing the plans currently has more than 94,000 signatures, and the chair of Balloch and Haldane Community Council said the resort would “dominate the whole west side of Balloch” and be a “living hell” for locals.

The Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park Authority will decide whether to let the plans go ahead.

Wage allegations ‘shocking’

The Scottish Greens condemned the company for being named by the UK Government for allegedly underpaying staff. “This is shocking, but frankly not surprising,” said west of Scotland MSP, Ross Greer, an opponent to Flamingo Land’s plans in his constituency.

“It is yet another self-inflicted problem from a company who have shown such contempt to the people of Balloch and for Loch Lomond itself for almost a decade. Everyone deserves to be paid enough to live above the poverty line, and it is only the most reckless companies who would do otherwise.”

The company has “made all sorts of commitments about how they’ll treat their workers”, but the UK Government’s allegations “prove those commitments aren’t worth the paper they’re written on,” he added.

Jim Paterson, development director for Flamingo Land, said: “We are committed to being a responsible employer. All our team are fully paid at rates beyond the national living wage.

“A processing issue relating to a very small number of senior and long-standing members of the team, whose salaries significantly exceed our basic rate of pay, was flagged earlier this year, each with specific circumstances that skewed the accounts, however, all errors were rectified, and processes firmed up.

“Fair pay is something that is vitally important to us as a business and we have a salary output exceeding £9m for 400 members of the team. The error flagged amounted to 0.033 per cent of our pay system which has of course been corrected.”

The Scottish Conservatives did not respond to a request to comment.

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Main image: Michael Jagla/iStock

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