Gardener evicted from allotment after a spat

Michael Rock at his allotment
Michael Rock at his allotment

A GREEN-FINGERED enthusiast has been left red-faced with rage after claiming he was kicked off his allotment because he stood up for his fellow gardeners.

Michael Rock, 59, of Alpine Road, planted fruit trees at his plot at the Bembrook Allotments off Croft Road, but Hastings Borough Council (HBC) officials said they left his allotment underused. After a lengthy dispute his plot was let to someone else but only after he had paid his rent for the coming year. Mr Rock believes he is being victimised because he made a complaint against one of the allotment officers who he accused of bullying some of the tenants.

He said: “Some of the managers there were bullying the OAPs and treating them in a very deplorable way. They are not used to people standing up to them, and I am sure that if I had not done so I would be fine.”

HBC said they found no evidence of bullying at the allotments and officers met with Mr Rock over his concerns.

Mr Rock then spent £600 buying plum, apricot, cherry and apple trees and set about learning how to care for them. But he was shocked when he was served with a notice to quit, and his plot - which he has had for five years - was rented out to someone else.

“I really enjoyed learning all about the trees and was not hurting anyone. Nobody complained to me and lots of people said it was a nice idea. I don’t have a garden because I live on the second floor so I wanted a nice place where I could spend some time in the fresh air.”

Council spokesman Lucy Downham said Mr Rock fell foul of a new allotment agreement created in 2004 which stipulates that 75 per cent of the plot must be cultivated, but he said: “I can’t plant any more trees because they would be too close together and there are plenty of allotments up there which are kept worse.”

Cllr Trevor Webb, lead member for leisure, said: “Allotments are in huge demand; we have 150 people on our waiting lists. Mr Rock’s allotment was not being cultivated, and indeed we had complaints from other allotment holders about it. We did warn Mr Rock, but no improvement was made, and we have now re-let the allotment to others who, we hope, will spend time and effort cultivating it.”

Mr Rock’s rent would be reimbursed, he added.