Hartlepool allotment group fears for future as it faces being 'evicted' from plot

A gardening group is fearing for its future after the allotment holder whose plot they use was given notice to quit by the council.

Monday, 28th October 2019, 4:45 pm

The Burn Valley Allotment and Security Group, which has over 50 members, grow all kinds of fruit and vegetables from a shared plot on the site off Blakelock Road, Hartlepool.

But they are fearful for their future after Hartlepool Borough Council served the registered tenant with a notice to quit over accusations of subletting to the group.

John Hays, chairman of the Burn Valley Allotment and Security Group, said: “We’re trying to talk with the council to keep the plot for the project to go ahead.

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Burn Valley Allotment and Security Group members. Foreground: chair John Hays.

“There’s loads of produce which we give away to the community, but the council seem to be adamant that we’re getting evicted.

“In the past, when the group started off in 2005 Hartlepool council were all for us doing this project.

“Everybody’s just so sick. It’s just so stressful. It’s supposed to be a leisure activity where we are all supposed to get on well together.”

Produce from the allotment is given to the surrounding community including a cafe where it is used to make nutritious low-cost meals.

Gardening group chairman John Hays with son John Junior who are concerned over eviction notice

The group also provides free tool hire to other plot holders.

Hartlepool Borough Council say they have not terminated Mr Hays’ tenancy for his own separate plot on the allotments, where there are currently 117 people on the waiting list for a plot, and are not stopping him or the group from donating their produce or operating from his plot.

But Mr Hays says that is not feasible not least due to the presence of a large alarmed cabin used to store equipment which cannot be moved.

He added: “All we want is to transfer the garden from the tenant.”

Neal Storey, chair of the northern branch of the National Allotment Society, has been working to mediate on behalf of the tenant and the council.

He said: “I am in the process of writing to the council leader Shane Moore and Tony Hanson in charge of allotments with a view to having a face to face meeting to see if we can resolve this matter.”