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Morag Kinniburgh reports
"People are proud of their allotments"
 real 56k

Thursday, 17 August, 2000, 14:00 GMT 15:00 UK
Digging in to save allotments
Hawkhill allotments
The site is wanted by a neighbouring company
The Scottish Executive is being urged to protect the country's 5,000 garden allotments.

The move follows plans to close an Edinburgh allotment to make way for an industrial development.

Allotment holders on the Hawkhill site, in the shadow of Hibs FC's Easter Road stadium, are threatening to sit in if the city council goes ahead and tries to move them.

A neighbouring company, Wisharts, has warned the authorities that if it cannot expand onto the land it will leave the area with the loss of 100 jobs.


If we have to sleep in here, we'll sleep here to keep it

Robert Luke, allotment holder
Council leader Donald Anderson said: "The company have made it clear that if they can't expand here they are going to look to move.

"Clearly there's a conflict of interest between the allotment holders and the company."

He pointed out that the holders were being offered an alternative site, but that the council could not offer alternative employment to the staff who would lose their jobs if Wisharts left the area.

Robert Luke, 83, who has taken comfort from his gardening since his wife died, struck a defiant note: "This is my livlihood. It's my pleasure to come here every day.

Robert Luke
Robert Luke: "We shall not be moved"
"I don't want to move, I'm not going to move. We've said it, every one of us - we're not going to move.

"If we have to sleep in here, we'll sleep here to keep it."

Campaigner Susan Burns warned: I think even I would lie down in front of a bulldozer if necessary, just to show that we need to keep these green spaces forever becasue they are so valuable.

"Allotments are under threat all over Scotland whether they are privately or publicly owned."

The city council is due to make a decision at the end of August.

Issue repeated

Liberal Democrat MSP, Donald Gorrie, has offered to support them in their battle.

He has taken up the cause and is arguing Scotland's 5,000 allotments should be given the same protection and support as those south of the border.

Ali Black, from the Scottish Allotment and Garden Society, said: "There are a lot of places in Scotland where this exact same issue is happening.

Allotment
Allotments are disappearing
"There's conflict between the needs of local people in terms of green space and quality of life and the economic need to use the land for building and factories.

"We understand that but we still feel it's important to have green space in cities and urban environments."

MPs at Westminster called for action to save the nation's disappearing allotments after a report by the House of Commons environment, transport and regional affairs committee warned sites were being swallowed up and used for development.

The inquiry was launched after an apparent reduction in allotment provision was noticed.

The report quoted evidence that demand for allotments was set to increase in England and Wales.

The traditional image of an allotment holder as an older, retired man was also thought to be changing, with 35% of them under 50 years of age.

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See also:

24 Jun 98 | UK Politics
Allotments under threat say MPs
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