Wednesday, 8 June 2011

'Guerrilla Gardeners' Dig for Victory!

It has become a regular event now. Every Saturday, members of 'Ashton Allotment Action' meet with their shovels and spades to cultivate neglected land on Ashton Moss, near the M60 motorway in Ashton-under-Lyne, in Greater Manchester.

As we reported previously, the group turned to direct action when their local council, i.e. Tameside MBC, failed to allocate allotment sites to resident who had been on their allotment waiting list for years. Almost half of the 700 people on the council`s allotment list, want allotments on the Ashton Moss site.

According to the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners (NSALG), other people are experiencing similar problems across the country. A recent survey carried out by the Association, revealed that 150,000 people are on allotment waiting lists. Furthermore, over the last ten years some five to ten thousands allotment plots have been flogged-off by councils to developers.

In order to gain an allotment, many people like the members of Ashton Allotment Action, have started to illicitly occupy land in urban areas in order to clean it up and cultivate it to grow food etc. They are part of a wider social movement which has been dubbed 'guerrilla gardening'.

Last month members of the action group, were interviewed on the BBC One programme 'The One Show'. Nigel Rolland a spokesman for the group said:
"We've lost patience with the council after waiting seven years. Whoever is responsible for allowing this land to remain undeveloped, uncultivated, is negligent. The land has degraded, that`s why we are actually taking positive action to bring the land back into cultivation and we're improving it."
When asked to clarify their position, Tameside Council, declined to be interviewed by 'The One Show' but issued a statement, saying that they supported the need for allotments in the area but that the site, was owned by the developers. Cordingley`s, the agents who act for the landowners, Staley Developments Ltd, also declined to speak on camera but issued a statement saying that "negotiations were ongoing with the council and that they were hopeful that a positive conclusion would be reached in the short term."

Dave Morris, an allotment expert from NSALG, told the programme that progress would not be made unless the developer, the council and the allotment users, met together to sort this out. Meeting them separately, he added, would achieve nothing because developers and council's tend to blame one another.

Members of Ashton Allotment Action are of course, occupying the site illegally, and the owners or developers could take legal action to remove them from the site. When asked about this possibility, a spokesman for the group said:
"If they kick us off here, they will have to kick us off somewhere else, because we`re having allotments in Ashton-under-Lyne." 
It looks like the guerrilla gardeners of Ashton-under-Lyne are digging their heels in, for a long fight, to get the allotments they want.

1 comment:

Smud said...

If i was looking for a villian in this i wonder what the big four supermarkets are up to in regard to allottments,i also think they might have an input into town centre parking.Maybe i'm just a cynic though.