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Southampton City Council takes allotment away from homeless man
1:10pm Thursday 20th September 2012 in News
“I’VE lost everything in the world.”
Those are the words of a homeless Southampton man after he was stripped of his beloved allotment by council chiefs.
For six years, the plot, on the Witts Hill site, in Midanbury , was Barry Compton’s prized possession.
Tending to the allotment three days a week, the keen gardener grew a range of fruit, including strawberries, raspberries, blackcurrants and plums, transforming it into what he claims to be one of the most productive plots on the popular site.
And, after being made homeless a year ago, Barry, 61, even stored his remaining belongings, including a wedding ring from his first marriage and £600-worth of gardening tools, in the shed on plot three.
But after going on a two-week holiday to Dorset, Barry returned to find that the allotment had been repossessed, and the shed emptied. Barry, who has had no fixed address since being evicted from his former home in Whitworth Crescent, has been working as a computer programmer in Poole, from Monday to Thursday, where he stays in a bed-andbreakfast.
But he returns to live with a friend at weekends to tend the plot, until allotment bosses left him “gutted” by taking it from him.
He added: “The only thing I had left was at this allotment. I’ve lost everything in the world.
“The council said they sent me a letter in May, but they have my telephone number and email address and I told them I have no permanent home address.
“I have no idea why they have done this. This place is all I have left. I’m gutted.”
A fellow plot holder on the site, who asked not to be named, said: “Barry’s been here tending to his plot so there’s no reason why the council should take it off him.
“And breaking into his shed, as far as I’m concerned, is illegal. I will definitely help him try to keep the plot and get his stuff back.” Nick Yeats, the council’s allotments manager, said that the plot had been “left for a long time uncultivated”, adding that the council had given Barry 11 weeks to sort out the plot, after sending their initial letter in May.
He added: “As advised we sent our notices to the last address he gave us where we were told he would pick up his letters.
“The rule to cultivate allotments is to protect holders and to ensure that the allotments are regularly worked on.
“This is because there is a huge waiting list for residents who want to cultivate an allotment and it would be unfair on them if an allotment was left for a long time when it could be used by someone else.
“We have secured the gentleman’s gardening tools from the site and these will be handed back to the allotment holder as soon as he advises us when he wants them.”