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Gardeners angry over allotments U-turn
THEY got the assurance they wanted and thought they were safe.
Now a group of Hampshire allotment holders have accused civic chiefs of going back on their word after being told to make way for growers from a neighbouring town.
Seven of the people tending plots on the Ashurst-Totton border are being evicted following a U-turn by councillors.
The land at Foxhills, Ashurst, is owned by Totton and Eling Town Council, which has ruled that all its allotments should be for the exclusive use of Totton residents.
Some of the 30 Foxhills plots were previously leased to Ashurst and Colbury Parish Council to help meet demand in the two villages.
When the agreement ended, the Ashurst allotment holders were told they could stay for as long as they wished. However, they have now been ordered to surrender their plots by September next year.
People hit by the council’s change of policy include Ian Oliver, 65, of Rye Dale, Ashurst, who has had his allotment for 12 years.
He said: “We’re all absolutely devastated – especially after being told that we could keep our plots. It’s just so unfair. My allotment means everything to me. It gives me a bit of exercise and enables us to eat lovely fresh vegetables that I’ve grown myself.”
Mr Oliver’s wife Karen raised the issue at a town council meeting.
She told members: “Years of hard work and expense have gone into creating successful plots with good crop production. We’ve done nothing to deserve the threat that now hangs over us.”
Town clerk Derek Biggs blamed soaring demand for the council’s U-turn.
He said the authority had 300 plots, a waiting list of 140 and an annual turnover of just 35, which meant that people were having to wait years for an allotment.
“We were getting a bit of stick from Totton residents and decided to look at our policy again,” said Mr Biggs.
“Our first priority should be to look after the people of Totton – they are the ones who are paying council tax to this authority.”
Mr Biggs said the council had given the allotment holders three years’ notice – three times the amount required. He added: “If you live in Ashurst and want an allotment, you should be asking Ashurst to provide one.”
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