Daughter begs council to return mother’s "lifeline" allotment

Margaret Guida

Margaret Guida pictured tending to her allotment when it was under her ownership - Credit: Submitted

A woman has voiced her frustration over her mother having her allotment taken away for failing to pay rent after a 'communication breakdown'.

At a Dereham Town Council meeting on Tuesday, Jessica Guida urged the council to give her mother Margaret’s allotment back, saying it was her “passion and lifeline”.

Jessica Guida

Jessica Guida, pictured on her mother's allotment when her mother still owned it. - Credit: Submitted

In a statement earlier that day, town clerk Tony Needham said: “Allotment rents are always due in October.

“Mrs Guida was sent a rent letter in October, a rent reminder letter on November 17, a final rent reminder letter on December 1 and issued with a Notice to Quit letter on December 18.

“The Notice to Quit told her she had a month to remove all her possessions. She never got in touch with us or paid her rent so the allotment was given to a new tenant on January 22.

“It is very sad but the Council have written to Mrs Guida four times since October.

Dereham town clerk Tony Needham said the keyfobs would cost about £1,000. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Town clerk Tony Needham said the situation was "very sad", but that Mrs Guida had been alerted about her rent four times since October.

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“Even if she had contacted us on January 21, we would have rescinded the Notice To Quit, but once a new tenancy has been signed, then there is a legal agreement with that new tenant. It would be wrong of the council to put pressure on the new tenant to give the plot up.”

At the meeting, Mrs Guida’s daughter said she helps her mother keep track of letters, but lockdown had made that harder. 

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She said her mother usually pays in person, which she had tried to do but the office was closed, and she never gives card details over the phone.

Margaret Guida's allotment in 2016

The allotment pictured when Margaret Guida received it in 2016 - Jessica Guida said it was "totally overgrown" at the time, but they had successfully transformed it. - Credit: Submitted

“Being alone and in poor health, without that normal flow of life to keep us on our normal timetables, I believe mum lost perception of how much time had passed,” said Ms Guida's daughter.

She said there had been “a communication breakdown” and the final notice letter never arrived. 

“I don’t think it’s an appropriate letter to send in the regular post the week before Christmas,” said Ms Guida's daughter, adding that a signature should have been required upon receipt.

Margaret Guida's allotment in later years

Jessica Guida said that she, her mother, and others, had invested a great deal of time, money and effort transforming the allotment over the years. - Credit: Submitted

“We are begging the council to please let her keep it. The new tenancy started barely two weeks ago.

"With the bad weather we’ve had, the new tenant has yet to invest themselves like we have. 

“What I’m asking for is that in different and unprecedented times, you apply different and unprecedented measures.”

Mayor Stuart Green said the council would consider her request.

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