8:00am Wednesday 4th June 2014
By Rob Lowson
A long-term allotment holder accused of neglecting his Bradford Council plot has successfully appealed against being turfed off it.
Robert Stone, who has tended his plot at the Speeton Avenue allotments in Wibsey for the past eight years, received an eviction notice in March stating he was failing to cultivate the allotment to the required standards.
Mr Stone, 64, argued the decision was based on an inspection during the winter when the plot was dormant and, as well as rescinding the notice, the Council has now stated it will carry out fewer inspections at that time of year.
Despite his victory, Mr Stone said the whole incident, which he described at the time as having “broken his spirit”.
“Hurt is the overriding emotion, because I practically live up here,” he said. “My pride was hurt as the allotment is a huge part of my life.
“To put so much time and effort in and then be knocked for it was very disappointing.
“I don’t have a problem with people being moved on if they aren’t working the plots, but I truly don’t understand why they picked mine out.”
Mr Stone, who grows a vast array of herbs, fruits and vegetables on the site, said evidence to support the eviction notice had included pictures of an overgrown tree situated outside the boundaries of his plot.
“They said that we agreed to disagree, but that wasn’t entirely the case for me,” said Mr Stone. “Anybody could tell that I couldn’t have brought this plot back round if it had been in the condition they described.
“I’m not wholly satisfied, but the overwhelming feeling is one of relief that I’ve managed to keep my plot.”
Belinda Gaynor, the Council’s operational estates manager, said the authority had dealt with 17 appeals so far this year, two thirds of which had been upheld.
“Following a meeting with Mr Stone and an assessment of the condition of his plot, the Notice to Quit was withdrawn and the matter is now closed,” she said.
“We expect plots to be maintained in a tidy condition, even outside the growing season. We will not be making as many inspections in the winter months as at other times of the year.”
Mr Stone welcomed the change in policy, and also thanked readers of the Telegraph & Argus for supporting his appeal. “The fact that they are cutting back on winter inspections is a victory for all allotment holders, not just me,” he said.
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