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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 August 2007, 18:43 GMT 19:43 UK
Green-fingered demo for allotment
Meeting of the allotment holders
Campaigners meet at the allotment site to air their worries
Allotment-loving campaigners have staged a protest over fears that 100-year-old plots could be lost.

They say the site and a nearby riding club at the bottom of the Rhigos mountain near Treherbert, Rhondda, are being considered for housing.

The allotments are home to ducks, geese and chickens, and campaigners say they are an integral part of their lives.

But Rhondda Cynon Taf Council said there was currently no planning application for the allotments site.

Locally known as the Rhigos road, the area is being considered for the council's local development plan, which could enable it to be developed.

Terry Walton
It's a little parliament, if you like: there's more debating done in an allotment shed then there is in the Senedd
Terry Walton, allotment holder

But campaigners say the land is unsuitable for development, and have gathered a petition of 2,500 names.

John Evans, treasurer of the Haigside Allotment Society, said there had been allotments on the land for 100 years used by a variety of people.

"It's part of our lives," he said.

"It's open for everybody to get rid of the stresses of the world and relax and get involved with your hobbies."

'Fine tradition'

"At the moment it's green, one of the few green areas in Treherbert. If you lose that, there's nothing for people to fall back on as a hobby."

The oldest allotment holder, Tom Hughes, 84, who has been there since 1947, said it would break his heart if he was forced to leave.

"I'd be dead tomorrow," he said.

Rhondda MP Chris Bryant wants the council to keep the land for agricultural use.

The allotments, as photographed by an American soldier in 1944
The allotments, as photographed by an American soldier in 1944

He said there was a "fine tradition" of allotments in the area, and called the plots a "real community centre".

Mr Bryant said he hoped it would be possible to create a co-operative so people could own the land together.

Terry Walton, who has a plot in nearby Tonypandy and is known as the "allotment doctor" on BBC Radio 2's Jeremy Vine show, said he backed the protesters 100%.

Mr Walton called allotments were great meeting places, and one of the "focal points of the community".

He said: "You can make a brew and you can sit there for an hour and while the world away and put right all the problems.

"It's a little parliament, if you like: there's more debating done in an allotment shed then there is in the Senedd.

"Once it's gone, it's gone forever and the people who are there have probably put a lifetime's work into that," Mr Walton added.

Robert Bevan, of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, said the allotment site was one of many currently being assessed as a site considered for inclusion in the next local development plan.

"The council is currently going through a rigorous assessment process and no decisions have yet been taken on what sites will be included," Mr Bevan said.




SEE ALSO
Heels dig in over allotment move
24 Apr 07 |  South West Wales
Council approves allotment sale
01 Aug 07 |  London
Anger at new homes plan in city
25 Jun 07 |  Bristol/Somerset
Allotment becomes radio star
30 Jul 03 |  South East Wales

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