Author Topic: This ruling puts all UK allotments under threat  (Read 610 times)

Offline Big Gee

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This ruling puts all UK allotments under threat
« on: November 04, 2016, 08:06:25 PM »


This ruling puts all UK allotments under threat
Sara Jane Trebar Click on this 'Twitter' icon to find out more:

"We may have failed to save Save Terrace allotment in Watford from developers, but the battle to protect community spaces across the country will go on"
Wednesday 2 November 2016


Sara Jane Trebar: ‘We had not one but two days in court, and we brought the spirit of allotments to the high court each time.’
Photograph: Cathy Gordon/PA Archive/PA Images

Today at 10.25am our fight to save Farm Terrace allotments ended in defeat. It is a surreal experience to battle to save an allotment site for four years and then find out you have lost and there are no more avenues available.

I was down on Farm Terrace when I got the call. It has been my place of solace for the last eight years. I remember how excited my husband and I were to pick up the keys. I thought he was mad wanting an allotment when we had newborn baby. Within 18 months we were there with our second baby in a sling.

Our plot had a little gate with roses growing over it and a shed which had the previous tenant’s flat cap and overcoat inside. It was such an escape from the confines of the tiny yard of our terraced house. The children could run and play with the soil in their hands. We didn’t have much time to keep on top of it, but it became our routine, our congregating place and our refuge.

At the time, the site was about 90% occupied and although we didn’t know anybody else we started to recognise people and chat to our neighbours. Two years later we got the letter from Watford Borough Council saying that the allotment land might be needed for an expansion of the adjacent hospital.

We were devastated, but how could we argue? However it soon became clear that there was no hospital expansion and that the land was actually going to be used for flats. This got me angry - really, really angry. Not only for myself, although I admit the allotment was partly for my space to breathe. But now they were taking this place away from my family, from my kids. They were literally going to take my children’s playground away.

My six-year-old daughter asked me what we could do to stop it and I said “nothing”. As soon as I said it, I realised the effects these words would have on my daughter. That she could feel defenceless to this kind of bullying.

So after reading Cleve West’s book Our Plot I realised that to me, the council were stealing my community and the future community of Watford. Their shortsightedness for short term profit did not allow any compromise or inclusion of the allotments in their plans.

I was furious. Together with my fellow plot holders, we started the Farm Terrace Association and we slowly started taking on the council and in the end the government. We won twice but it felt as if the dice was loaded from the start: each time we celebrated a victory the goal posts were swiftly changed. We had not one but two days in court, and we brought the spirit of allotments to the high court each time.

Today, I stood on the very land we have fought so long for and received the news that we had lost and an appeal was probably not going to work. I felt numb at first, and then shock and despair. This fight has never been for just us. This fight has always been about protecting other allotments and community spaces. Sadly with this decision, the courts have failed to define the exceptional circumstances required for councils to develop community spaces across the UK.
Growing together – an allotment picture essay
Read more

I feel we have done our best, even though we lost this battle. We have been fighting for the survival of our allotment site and fighting for the protection of allotments up and down the country. By increasing awareness across the UK, we can hope the war will be won to protect community spaces. I am so proud of my supporters and fellow plot holders. But I also feel angry towards Watford council, who have used red herrings, such as suggesting we were standing in the way of a hospital expansion, to try to manipulate the public’s empathy. And I am angry at the government for allowing this to happen, for seemingly orchestrating it. And I am angry that I am bringing up my children in a society were immorality and greed wins above everything else.



Footnote: How sad - VERY sad. My heart goes out to Sara Jane Trebar & all her friends & supporters. Four hard years of campaigning to save their allotments, today shattered by greed for money, ignorance and short-sightedness. It's time for a big change in our society - starting with those that rule us.
 

Offline Westheathdave

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Re: This ruling puts all UK allotments under threat
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2016, 10:03:18 PM »
That's not a good outcome but typical of most town councils they all seem short of money so take the easy option close and build on allotments quick easy money.
Birmingham city council the same everything to do with allotments is shrinking 7 staff reduced to 2 last year and by next year to 1 running 84 sites barmy.
Our site is looking threatened as we got under occupancy of the site looming as people are leaving and no new plotholders coming. No one in our area seems interested in having an allotment.
We had a big advertising campaign 12 months ago with very little success 1 new plot holder we had.

Offline spuds

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Re: This ruling puts all UK allotments under threat
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2016, 08:02:51 AM »
what's needed is another TV  show about allotments then the would be gardeners will come out to play
 that's what happened  10/15 years ago and filled every plot and made waiting list  long there are about 50 plots where I am and I have been told that at least 4 are now vacate
Spuds (mick Ford)
is that the kettle I hear boiling
Newton Abbot Sunny Devon ( most times!)

Offline Big Gee

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Re: This ruling puts all UK allotments under threat
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2016, 11:47:20 AM »
What's needed is more down to earth politicians, without the greed and short-sightedness of those around us at local and national level. I don't want the 'Shed' to become a political forum (God knows there's plenty of those around already). However in the interests of preserving allotments and a way of life we need to consider who is on our side.

I'm a Welsh Nationalist - not a Labourite (I didn't say that I'm not a Socialist), however there is one politician that I admire more than ANY in other parties at the moment. He's an allotment grower and has very strong views about allotment sites being given over to development.

Check out the video:

<iframe width="640" height="385" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/hz8YHZQYyHo?fs=1&start=" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

I'm not sure about contrived gardening/ allotment programmes Spuds. Sure it draws in the public, but I'm afraid it's the wrong types - that's why you get a big surge of interest and long waiting lists, then when reality dawns they disappear again - just like the mist at dawn!