Anger over treatment of allotment holders

PUBLISHED: 14:41 09 May 2013 | UPDATED: 14:41 09 May 2013

(c) Medioimages/Photodisc

Budleigh’s allotment holders say they are ‘disgusted’ at how they have been treated while the town’s new ‘community gardens’ are built.

The new allotments, which are needed after the old plots in Greenway Lane were given up for development, were supposed to be finished by January 1, but are still not completed.

Allotment holders accept that bad weather has had a role in the delay, but also have many other complaints, and say both landowners Clinton Devon Estates (CDE) and leaseholders Budleigh Salterton Town Council have not been listening to them.

Bob Wiltshire, who was appointed to liaise between the council and allotment holders, told councillors this week: “Meetings have been arranged between CDE and yourselves, but we have not been invited. If we had been invited to meetings we could have expressed our concerns to CDE.

“All in all, we feel that we have been treated shabbily. It is quite clear that the allotment holders are [seen as] a total nuisance and should be treated accordingly.

“We wish it to be put on record that we are disgusted with the treatment that we have received.”

Among allotment holders’ complaints are that the new plots are too small, that an agreement to allow hens has been reneged upon, and that plants in a ‘heeling-in’ area, where they have been placed while the new allotments are built, will have to be moved twice this summer, which may kill them.

Mr Wiltshire also accused the council of going for more, smaller plots in a ‘politically correct’ attempt to reduce the waiting list, an allegation which was denied by Budleigh mayor Courtney Richards.

He said: “A political requirement to reduce the waiting list has never entered the discussion.

“I’m sorry [the allotment holders] feel we haven’t taken notice of them, but we have had to drive it through.

“I just hope at the end of the day we will have some decent plots up there, and figuratively once the dust has settled everyone can move forward.”

Clinton Devon Estates has also responded, saying the only reason for the delay is bad weather.

A spokesman said: “We regret that there has been a delay in preparing the new allotments but this has been wholly due to severe and prolonged bad weather over the winter.

“In recognition of the upheaval for allotment holders, Clinton Devon Estates has agreed with the town council not to charge any rent for 12 months from June 2013 to June 2014.”

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Wiltshire said the upheaval had put many former allotment holders off for good.

“A lot of older people have given up now, and for people with very small gardens this was their lifeblood.

“There was a very good community spirit up there and a lot now have just dropped their bats. Really, it’s very sad.”

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