New allotment rules are given the green light

A NEW set of rules has been approved for 600 allotment holders after one man’s fight to grow fruit trees upset the applecart.

Michael Rock, 60, of Alpine Road, decided to let the grass grow over his plot at Bembrook Allotments.

As the Observer reported in January, Mr Rock’s actions prompted the council to rewrite the rule book after receiving a number of complaints about his plot.

There is a new clause in the new contract which states: ‘It is not sufficient simply to clear weeds without using the area to produce crops and flowers. A lawn does not constitute cultivation.’

But Mr Rock still insists he will not sign up to any new rules and intends to take the council to a county court hearing.

He says he signed a contract with the council which allowed him to grow dwarf stock - smaller varieties of the species.

Fruit from the trees will be turned into jam to give away to local pensioners.

The new tenancy rules for Hastings Borough will come into effect on April 1, 2013.

They were unanimously approved by members of the cabinet on Monday and follows an extensive consultation process.

Every tenant will now be sent a new tenancy agreement to sign. Those who do not sign up will forfeit their right to a plot.

But Mr Rock said: “The council is not playing by the rules and they should be ashamed of themselves. They are acting like bullies.

“It is an underhand practice to get me to sign a contract in the first place and then decide to reverse the rules to suit them.

“I am disputing the whether the council is allowed to change my original agreement.

“I have invested a lot of time and money in my plot and I am not prepared to see that undone.

“I will fight this all the way to the European Court of Human Rights if I have to.”

Council spokesman Kevin Boorman said: “The rules were agreed unanimously and we believe they are fair and reasonable and have the support of the vast majority of allotment holders.”