Norwich allotment-holders’ anger over council warning letters

Barbara and George Hyde on their allotment off the Avenues, Norwich. Photo: Steve Adams

Barbara and George Hyde on their allotment off the Avenues, Norwich. Photo: Steve Adams

Councillors in Norwich have raised concerns over 'heavy-handed' warnings to allotment-holders to bring their plots up to scratch.

They claim that letters to gardeners this spring left them fearing for the future of their allotments, despite them believing they were being kept in order.

But Norwich City Council has defended its approach, saying it offers people flexibility and support in working their allotments and meeting the requirements of their tenancy.

Cllr Claire Stephenson, leader of the Green group on Norwich City Council, said she had spoken to residents who had been 'in tears' at the letters, which were distributed after allotment inspections by council officers.

'They are not very clearly written and tell people their allotments are messy when in fact they are not. The council has been very heavy-handed in sending these letters out and people are quite upset about it,' she said.

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Ms Stephenson said the standard letters had caused confusion, with some allotment-holders questioning whether it had been sent to them by mistake, and others pointing out that their allotments would have been under snow at the time of officer inspections.

Barbara Hyde and her husband George, of Unthank Road, have worked their Bluebell North allotment since 2006.

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They received a notice to improve their plot in February, but said it was unclear what it related to. After the couple worked to bring it up to standard, the plot was passed in early April.

'We suffered so much anxiety because the allotment is so important to us. We have worked incredibly hard on it,' said Mrs Hyde.

There are long waiting lists for Norwich City Council allotments

A spokesman said council officers worked hard to balance people's own approach to their plots with the standard rules.

She said: 'We adopt a flexible approach to managing our allotments and always encourage tenants to let us know if they ever experience any problems maintaining them. We then offer to work with them to try and resolve their problems before taking more formal action to address any issues. If we ever have to formally write to a tenant about being in breach of certain rules, this action is only taken after officers have personally carried out a careful inspection of the plot.'

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