Allotment photo ID bid buried after deluge of complaints from Hartlepool gardeners

Ray Metcalfe (right) and Lenny Hornsey at Thornhill allotments
Ray Metcalfe (right) and Lenny Hornsey at Thornhill allotments

CIVIC chiefs have withdrawn a new policy that asked allotment holders to show photograph identification after anger from gardeners.

Hartlepool Borough Council has backed down on the move to bring in the picture cards after a “productive” meeting with plot-holders.

Gardeners welcomed the move as a “step in the right direction” but say there are still “too many rules” to have an allotment.

The Mail reported last month that allotment holders were up in arms about “ridiculous” new regulations drawn up by the council, with civic chiefs admitting staff use ladders to scale walls to take pictures of plots to ensure they are being managed properly.

The photo ID idea came after the council discovered people were fraudulently gaining tenancy of allotments.

In some cases people were operating two and three allotments at a time and one allotment was even found to be in a child’s name.

But after a meeting with allotment association members, council chiefs decided to scrap photo ID after recognising most weren’t in favour.

A council spokesman said: “Following issues raised at a recent Neighbourhood Forum meeting, the council met with representatives of allotment associations in the town and we had a very productive meeting.

“The meeting gave allotment representatives the opportunity to ask questions and raise issues on a number of matters.

“As a result the council has decided to withdraw the requirement for allotment holders to provide photo ID.

“We considered introducing this to reduce some fraudulent practices to acquire allotments and whilst the idea had the support of many allotment holders, we recognise that the majority were not in favour.

“The council has collated all the views from the allotment holders and are now considering the future strategy which will be deliberated at a further meeting with allotment association representatives in the near future.

“We are committed to working together to ensure that we have allotments the town can be proud of and that they are used for the right and proper purposes.”

Ray Metcalfe, 79, who has had his plot at Thornhill allotments since 1978, welcomed news of the U-turn.

The retired council groundsman and dad-of-two, who has three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, of Throston, said: “It’s about time. If it was still going ahead, I would not have given permission to take my photograph or even have an ID card. It’s all wrong, it’s a breach of human rights.”

Neighbouring plot-holder Lenny Hornsey, 69, a retired scrap and demolition worker from the marina area, said: “We are over the moon. What did we need it for anyway?”

But Rossmere Allotments Association secretary Louise Calvert, who helped draw up the rules as part of a focus group, said: “The idea was protection for plot-holders. I can see where there could have been problems but I could see more positives than negatives. It would have meant a lot more security.

“The rules are there to protect people doing what they should be doing.”

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