Petition launched as jail time nears for gardener Jam

Jam Imani Rad with one of the under-threat statues in his garden

Jam Imani Rad with one of the under-threat statues in his garden

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More than 2,800 people have signed a petition to stop a pensioner going to jail over unauthorised home and garden work.

Last month Jam Imani Rad, 66, was given a suspended five month prison sentence for breaching an interim court order forbidding him to develop land belonging to Community Gateway Associaion (CGA) at Harrington Street, Preston.

The landlord gave retrospective permission for unauthorised gardening work three times, but last year demanded the removal of a swing attached to an RSJ, statues deemed offensive by a neighbour and unsafe electrical work. The former teacher was told he must remove these items and internal mosaic work by July 18, or the prison sentence will be invoked.

Mr Rad claims he’d rather go to prison than “destroy” his work.

As the date nears, thousands of people have signed a petition calling on Gateway to allow the work to stay - even though the matter is now legally-binding.

Organiser Jac Charlesworth said: “Please sign this petition, and at the same time perhaps you could contact Gateway by telephone or email, and tell them to stop being so cruel and leave my friend Jam in peace. He isn’t doing anything bad to anybody and his neighbours agree.”

CGA presented evidence to say neighbours have complained about some work, and a judge agreed health and safety concerns were justified.

Mr Rad said friends were now helping to organise a farewell party for the garden on Sunday July 17.

He said: “We want to celebrate the beauty of the plants and say good bye to them. We will have some musicians and I hope to turn a sad event to a joyful memory. I don’t wish any protests or demonstrations, but a peaceful and happy meeting of like-minded people. I want Gateway people to remember what I said in the court. I am happy and proud for what I did.”