Southoe residents grow frustrated over lack of allotments

FRUSTRATION is mounting in a village where residents claim not enough is being done to provide allotments to help them cut their food bills during the credit crunch. A group of Southoe residents are anxious to roll up their sleeves and start growing thei

FRUSTRATION is mounting in a village where residents claim not enough is being done to provide allotments to help them cut their food bills during the credit crunch.

A group of Southoe residents are anxious to roll up their sleeves and start growing their own produce so that they can save money on their food shopping.

They say allotments are needed as a matter of urgency because of the present economic situation.

But many have been left angered after their parish council said there was no land available in the village to use for allotments.


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Jason Collins, 41, of High Street, Southoe said: "We have been trying to get allotments in the village for about three years. We want allotments because of the current economic climate. With increasing food prices we want to cut our living costs by growing our own food."

He added: "There are about nine residents who feel that allotments would be a great asset to Southoe, and many other families are also interested.

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"Southoe doesn't have any shops so we have to travel to Buckden, Little Paxton and St Neots and due to the economic climate many of us feel that we would benefit greatly from being able to plant our own produce.

"We also feel allotments would be an asset in bringing the community together."

To help their campaign the green-fingered residents have set up the Southoe Allotment Association and are seeking legal advice from the National Allotment Association.

Another resident, John Finn, 50, of High Street, Southoe believes the parish council should be doing more to bring about the creation of allotments in the village.

He is urging the council to carry out a compulsory land hire.

The 50-year-old father of three said: "I moved here three years ago and an allotment was on my wish list then. It is incredibly frustrating that we seem to be getting fobbed off with councillors saying there is nothing they can do."

He added: "Allotments would help bring together the community by creating a hub of activity in the village and help teach my three young children the importance of home-grown produce."

The land the group has its eye on is located next to the playing field and is let on a fixed term agreement with Oxford University Chest until 2015.

When asked if the University would consider leasing the land for use as allotments, Savilles, who are the managing agent refused to comment.

Alan Marnes, chairman of Southoe Parish Council said there is no land available in the village and compulsory land hire could take years and cost thousands of pounds.

He said: "We want to provide these allotments because people want them but our hands are tied. We cannot find anyone to lease us some land and we have written to everyone in the village.

"I don't think Southoe is any different to anywhere else as this is a national problem. We are trying to secure the land but we seem to have hit a brick wall. We would be reluctant to use the parish council's entire budget on a compulsory land hire to provide allotments for just a few people.

"It is frustrating for us and for those wanting allotments but we do not know what else we can do."

Is there a similar allotment problem in the village where you live and what solutions have you come up with? E-mail your thoughts to editor@huntspost.co.uk or write to: Allotments debate, The Hunts Post, 30 High Street, Huntingdon, PE29 3TB.

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