Allotment tenants must abide by rules

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There is a serious error in the article entitled ‘Allotment owner slams council over court battle’ (Observer, February 18), an error which is repeated in the letter entitled ‘Fruit trees? Away with these terrible disgusting things’ (Observer February 25).

Mr Rock is not the owner of his allotment plot. Allotment sites in the borough (except for Vale Road) are owned by Hastings Borough Council (HBC) and as publicly owned land belong to all of us.

No, like the rest of us allotmenteers, Mr Rock is a tenant. Council allotment tenants sign a contract with HBC. This contract, the tenancy agreement, sets out the rights and responsibilities of both tenants and HBC. Tenants do have the right to grow fruit trees, as long as they are dwarf forms. Tenants’ responsibilities include achieving 75 per cent cultivation of their plot within the first two years of their tenancy. As most gardeners will know dwarf fruit trees take up little room (my dwarf cherry, for example, occupies no more than a square metre of ground) leaving plenty of space for cultivation of vegetables and flowers around them.

The 160 plus persons on the allotment waiting list could justifiably feel aggrieved were HBC not to take action regarding sitting tenants who are judged to have breached their tenancy agreements by not cultivating their plots sufficiently. Such action is governed by allotment law and begins with requesting the tenant to improve their plot.

As for bullying us OAPs with plots on Bembrook Allotments, I have yet to hear of any older tenant suffering this, and I have been on the site for over ten years. Perhaps we senior citizens just get on with cultivating our plots?

Dr Judy Clark, Site Secretary, Bembrook Allotments

Collier Road