Victory for allotment holders as notice to quit is withdrawn

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TWO friends who have cultivated an allotment in Bury St Edmunds for years have successfully fought a council’s attempt to evict them.

Roy Buckle and Roger Smith, both aged 65, have shared a 10 rod plot in Sicklesmere Road, registered in the name of Roy’s wife, Cindy, for more than a decade.

They were ‘ecstatic’ last Friday when notified about the Bury Town Council’s decision to withdraw a notice to quit it had issued, which had given the pair four weeks to give up the plot.

“We won, we’ve got what we wanted, but the whole process must have been so costly – there must be other things for them to worry about than one allotment,” said Roger, from Moreton Hall.

Residency was the issue at the heart of the council’s decision, following Roy and Cindy’s move from Bury to Thurston.

Allotment tenants who did not live in Bury in 2006, when allotments were transferred to the town council, were allowed to remain as tenants but the same does not apply to pre-2006 tenants who lived in Bury but choose to move out of the town after.

“I would call that reverse discrimination,” said Cllr David Nettleton who, despite being neither Roger’s or Roy’s ward councillor, impressed the pair with his support over the issue.

He said they had been ‘model tenants for 10 years’ and, after visiting their allotment, said they had ‘tended their plot in an exemplary fashion’.

He was angry that despite the notice being issued in April, when he was vice-chairman of the town council and chairman of its finance committee, he knew nothing about it until Roger and Roy made representations to the full council last week as part of their appeal against it.

“I’m angry that decent people have been subjected to ill-treatment for over two months by this bureaucratic nonsense,” said Cllr Nettleton.

The plot in question has now been registered in Roger’s name and the notice to quit has been withdrawn.

Roy said: “It’s just common sense to me and what should have been done in the first place.

“I always said if I lost it I lost it, but I didn’t want Roger to lose his part because I was the one who moved.”

Cllr Nettleton suggested the council found allotments for the 80 or so people on its waiting lists by taking enforcement action against current tenants who had neglected their plots.

The town council has now clarified its position using its website.

It says, except for the few people who already lived out of the town on April 1, 2006, ‘the allotment tenancy conditions require that during the continuation of the tenancy the tenant shall continue to be resident in the parish of Bury’.