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Saturday, 23 August 2014

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Gardeners stand firm amid Seaton allotments eviction

Seaton allotment holders have vowed not to back down in the face of eviction.

At a special meeting on Monday between the parish council and allotment holders, council members answered 22 prepared questions that allotment holders had sent to Councillor Trevor Fee.

The tenants of the allotment site, off Lowca Lane, said in one question to the council: “We are in this for the long haul and will not back down.”

After the meeting Ken Sloane, chairman secretary of the village allotment association, said: “If it came to being evicted we wouldn’t move and we wouldn’t clear the allotments.

“We would maybe go as far as forming a barricade.”

Allotment holder Peter Vaughan, said: “We are going to continue to fight it to the very end.

“We are going to pursue one or two avenues with the council. We want to stay and the majority of the councillors want us to stay.”

Tenants faced an uncertain future when the allotment site was sold at auction to Ken Walker and DW Hall in December.

The parish council believed at the time that an eviction notice could not be served until October at the earliest. With a 12-month notice period, that would have given them until October 2013 to quit.

However, they have now agreed to serve notice almost immediately after receiving a letter from the new owners’ solicitors, although eviction notices have still not been sent to the allotment holders.

At the meeting Mr Vaughan asked why the council had spent large sums of money developing the site for those efforts to be in vain now.

He said: “You have helped us out a lot over the years but now you have done a big u-turn and we can’t understand why.”

The official response from the council said it had no reason to suspect that the owners would sell the site in December 2011 at the stage when improvements were being carried out.

Coun Kate Birkett said: “We wanted to give you a better quality of allotment and the feeling I get is that you think we are the bad guys here. If we could stop this, we would.”

The allotment holders questioned why the council didn’t buy the land from the previous owners.

The council said it had attempted to purchase the land and made two counter offers to the owners’ original proposal.

The tenants suggested that the council had backtracked in its support for the allotment holders.

The council response was that it had been willing to give full support to the allotment holders as far as considered appropriate, taking into account its responsibilities towards the other 5,000 residents of the parish.

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