The good life is fast losing its appeal for a group of angry allotment holders in Preston.
Elderly gardeners, in particular, say they are ready to down forks and walk away from their plots in Fulwood, after being hit by fresh rent increases from their Town Hall landlords.
Councillors have announced prices are to go up for the fifth consecutive year next month – and pensioners are to lose their concessionary rates too.
“It’s just unacceptable,” said Jeffrey Ward, who has worked a large plot off Blackpool Road for the last 11 years. “If it doesn’t change, then I’ll be leaving by December. I’ve just had enough – and I’m not the only one.”
Mr Ward, from nearby Victoria Road, says the rent for his plot has shot up 425 per cent in just over a decade. But the loss of concessionary rates is the final straw. The rent for his allotment will rise from £64 to £85 a year in the next nine months, an increase of a third.
“The basis of gardening is you only get back what you put in,” he said. “Well, the council is taking everything and giving nothing back. All we get for our money is a water supply for five months of the year .
“I’ll be sad to leave my plot, but I’ll be out of here by the end of the year if they stick to this policy. The council say there is a waiting list for these allotments, well how come there are so many of them vacant now? There will be even more empty come December.”
Independent ward councillor Terry Cartwright supported the allotment holders. He said: “I think it’s diabolical we are treating people in this way.
“These are largely pensioners who have tended these plots for years, and I’ve had a number of complaints saying they are very angry. I hope they don’t give up their allotments, but it’s a poor way for a Labour council to treat folk.”