Judge to decide on future of allotment

Michael Rock
Michael Rock

A JUDGE is set to decide next month whether an allotment holder who only grows fruit trees will have to hand it back to the council.

Michael Rock, of Alpine Road, will appear before Hastings County Court to argue he should be allowed to continue growing his fruit.

The 61-year-old took on his plot at Bembrook Road allotments in 2007 but decided to only grow fruit trees instead of traditional vegetables.

But Hastings Borough Council decided to repossess his plot over alleged breaches of the rules.

The authority argued that 75 per cent of the plot should be cultivated within two years of its uptake.

It stated that Mr Rock’s 11 trees were not occupying sufficient space on his 250 square metre plot.

Last August Mr Rock lost his bid to secure an injunction to stop council officers coming onto his plot.

On Tuesday (February 26) he returned to the court where District Judge Geoffrey Smith decided a possession hearing would take place in April.

Last year the council carried out a consultation exercise with its 600 plot holders.

This followed the proposal of a new set of rules.

A 20-page new rule book was introduced last year and includes a number of specific allotment arrangements.

Plot holders must now obtain written consent from the council to plant any fruit trees unless they are classed as dwarf stock which will not grow higher than seven feet.

Allotment holders who refused to sign the new agreement would forfeit their plot.

Mr Rock has vowed to take his case to the European Court of Human Rights.

Speaking outside court on Tuesday he said: “I am just fighting for my right to grow fruit trees.

“I could do with some help though. If there are any solicitors or barristers who would take my case on a pro-bono basis.

“I would be very keen to hear from them.”

To get in touch with Mr Rock call 01424 441787.