An allotment holder says an eviction notice he has received from Bradford Council accusing him of failing to look after his plot has “broken his spirit.”
Robert Stone, who has tended the plot at the Speeton Avenue allotments in Wibsey for the last eight years, received a letter from Bradford Council last month giving him a month’s notice to quit the tenancy.
The letter stated that Mr Stone, 64, was not cultivating the plot to the required standards, but despite his protestations and request for a meeting to discuss the issue, he said his pleas have been ignored.
He said: “A lot of plot-holders have had letters by mistake in the past, but when you query them, there’s no-one to deal with it.
“I assumed initially that they’d just got the plots mixed up, but when it said I had to get off, it became serious.
“The letter broke my spirit, if I’m honest. I’ve had no response from the Council, and the thought of having to leave is absolutely devastating.
“I plan to fight my cause, but I hope common sense will prevail. I feel helpless. I’m just an ordinary man who enjoys growing and planting things, but I’m here every week, and my allotment is a huge part of my life.”
Mr Stone, an aerial and satellite rigger, who grows a vast array of herbs, fruits and vegetables on the plot, said pictures taken to support the eviction notice had been taken during the winter when the allotment was dormant, with some photos actually showing an overgrown tree outside the boundaries of his plot.
“The pictures they took were just dried plants, which you can’t do anything about in the winter. I brought the whole plot back round to its current conditions in two days, which you just can’t do unless it’s already cultivated – it’s impossible.”
The Council has said it has revamped its allotment services, speeding up the process of transforming derelict or vacant sites to reduce waiting lists.
But Jane Robinson, of the Bradford Community Environment Project, which allocates temporary starter plots at the Scotchman Road allotments in Manningham, said that while recent improvements in certain council services had been welcomed, communication problems still existed.
“We all want uncultivated plots to be moved on swiftly, but the process has to be effective,” she said.
“This case emphasises how important it is to be careful and get things right.
“Some long-standing plot holders who have received warnings about their level of cultivation felt the letters were both unprecedented and heavy-handed.”
Belinda Gaynor, Bradford Council’s operational estate manager, said 32 tenancies had been terminated so far during 2013/14, with approximately ten of those evictions leading to appeals.
“There are waiting lists for council allotments and we have a duty to make sure that those who have plots are actually working them,” she said.
“Prior to any termination notice being issued plot holders are given a written warning and advised that improvement is required.
“The termination of Mr Stone’s tenancy will be put on hold to allow time for his appeal to be determined.”