Crawley council accused of not cracking down on vacant allotment holders

Dean Langbridge who relies on allotments for sustenance says 'unused and abused' plots are attracting rats and weeds at Tilgate. Here pictured in an unused plot. Pic Steve Robards  SR1614642 SUS-160523-174126001
Dean Langbridge who relies on allotments for sustenance says 'unused and abused' plots are attracting rats and weeds at Tilgate. Here pictured in an unused plot. Pic Steve Robards SR1614642 SUS-160523-174126001
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Crawley Borough Council has been accused of failing to crackdown on people who do not tend to their allotments.

Dean Langridge, 52, said the council was not doing enough to protect allotment holders who rely on their plots for food, claiming up to six were being ‘abused’ in each of the town’s allotment sites.

Mr Langridge, of Furnace Green, who works at the Tesco in Three Bridges, said: “It’s not fair on the people who are on a waiting list.

“This is the start of the growing season where every single site should be taken.

“It’s frustrating that I’ve sent photos before and nothing gets done.”

Vacant plots in Tilgate’s allotments attracted rats which ate his produce last year.

Mr Langridge believed people who held vacant plots were playing the system by only digging up their patches before council staff checked they were being used.

He added: “This isn’t the way that it should be - it’s the people’s land and I certainly feel that the only authority is with their administration.

“Whatever the process that they have they should be more stringent - they don’t appear to be following it up.”

He added: “I need it for sustenance.

“I work full time but it’s a low-paid job and I’m trying to supplement my income with growing.”

A spokesman for Crawley Borough Council said: “There are currently 153 people on the waiting list. Many of these people have been offered plots and we are just waiting for them to confirm if they are still interested.

“The main aim of an allotment is the production of food however we do allow the growing of flowers etc.

“Since January our head gardener (allotments) has inspected all plots monthly to ensure allotments are either being worked or covered. Last week we sent 34 ‘unworked’ letters to plot holders who have not cultivated or covered their plots. In addition, we posted six ‘termination of agreement’ letters to allotment holders who have continued to ignore their plot and our initial letter. We do not advise allotment holders when inspections are taking place.

“Some plot holders have genuine reasons for not being able to cultivate e.g. one gentleman had a heart by-pass operation recently and is not fit to work the plot at the moment, however his doctors have advised him he will be able to return to light duties soon and agree in the long term it will aid his recovery. Another contacted us this week as he has broken his ankle and will not be able to work his plot for another month on the advice of his doctor.”

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