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Battle lines drawn over allotments

PUBLISHED: 15:26 28 August 2008 | UPDATED: 11:40 03 July 2010

THORNY issues are cropping up amid the normally sedate allotment holders tending their prized fruit and vegetables.

All is far from rosy amongst the rival groups of gardeners squaring up over the running of Great Yarmouth and Gorleston Allotment Association.

THORNY issues are cropping up amid the normally sedate allotment holders tending their prized fruit and vegetables.

All is far from rosy amongst the rival groups of gardeners squaring up over the running of Great Yarmouth and Gorleston Allotment Association.

Critics claim that sites are poorly maintained and vacant plots left to run wild while demand for allotments grow.

The controversy is set to come to a head tonight at the association's annual meeting, with rebels seeking to unseat the current committee members.

Tony Pugh and John Howard are secretaries at the Fremantle Road allotments in Yarmouth and both want to see changes in the way the association is run.

“There are acres of derelict allotments here covered in a thicket of brambles that nobody will take on,” said Mr Pugh. “They have been out of use for 15 to 20 years, but could be let in no time at all if only the plots were cleared.

“Lots of younger people and women have allotments now and there is much more interest in growing your own produce. The association doesn't want to spend any money, we need far more water standpipes and the tracks should be improved.

“We would like to provide allotments to local schools, many children have no idea how fruit and vegetables are produced and it would be a wonderful opportunity to learn how to grow their own.”

Both Tony and John are standing for election at the meeting, taking place at the Kings Centre in Great Yarmouth. It will be the first time all members of the association are able to have a vote which was previously restricted to a small group of shareholders.

“This could be a terrific site; one allotment has been transformed that was let out to an elderly couple in the last 18 months,” said Mr Howard. “It was a complete mess. It's now beautifully tended and has a new shed, which just shows what can be done.”

Former committee member Arthur Fisk told the Mercury there around 60 vacant plots just at Fremantle Road and more than 100 in total.

Mr Fisk resigned last month and is seeking re-election, standing for the positions of chairman and vice chairman.

He said: “It has taken four years to change the rules to give every tenant a vote.”

The association has been without a chairman after Ted Brackenbury resigned last year after more than 30 years in post.

Long standing committee member Mary Morgan accused the critics of being impatient and said change had been put on hold while the new election rules were introduced.

She said some plots at Fremantle Road were in a dreadful state, but for many years there had been a decline in the number of people interested in having allotments.

She added: “There was no point spending thousands of pounds to get them cleared if nobody wanted to use them. In the last 12 to 18 months demand has started to pick up and some previously disused plots have already been cleared at the Wood Farm allotments in Gorleston.

“It was complicated to change the voting arrangements; a lot of work had to be done in the background. Mr Fisk is behaving like a bull in a china shop, not waiting for things to be sorted out.”

The meeting at the Kings Centre, Queen Anne's Road is open to all members of the association and starts 7.30pm.


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