In the 13th of a series of articles by plot holders at Redbridge Lane West allotments – which are under threat from the adjacent gas works – Roger Snook explains the ongoing frustrations with Cadent
As many readers will know, Cadent (the ‘gas giant’) is erecting a new security fence around their installation on Eastern Avenue, and in the process, will be taking part of the land which has for decades been the home of Redbridge Lane West allotments.
Allotment holders have been treated to months of PR, with promises of reparation to those effectively evicted or moved. They have also promised significant ‘betterment’ of the site as a whole to compensate for the months of disruption and damage that lie ahead. Unfortunately, these promises have yet to be realised.
At long last, at the time of writing, displaced allotmenteers have received details of the promised compensatory packages, but have still to discuss the contents of these proposals. The promised ‘betterment’ of the site as a whole seems to be dying on the vine. Apart from like-for-like replacements, where Cadent will be destroying or commandeering part of the site, nothing has been agreed with plot holders.
Cadent has replaced the storm-damaged plastic polytunnel for the charity Sprout There!, which is welcome, but also good PR for Cadent. However, the more mundane but essential ‘betterments’ the site desperately needs have somehow ‘run into difficulties’ or quietly fallen off the agenda altogether.
So, after months of meetings and discussions, we are still waiting and wondering whether – yet again – big business will talk-the-talk, but not walk-the-walk until, eventually, we lose the will to live!
I am loath to appear emotional about the value of allotments in today’s world, as such rapacious behaviour by powerful business requires us to fight back. However, certain things must be said. I am 80 and disabled. I have tended my allotment for nigh on 20 years. I am the carer of my disabled wife and, not to put too fine a point on it, my allotment is my lifesaver – physically and mentally.
Other allotment holders could tell you similar stories. Some plants, such as the vines and fruit trees on my allotment, have taken years to come to fruition. To grow them again, I would have to live longer than Her Majesty (who, incidentally, has visited our allotments). I am a naturalist, and our site is a wonderful haven for all kinds of wildlife. The beautiful wild flower corncockle appeared on our site some years ago and still deigns to pay us an annual visit, as do over a hundred other wild flowers.
Finally, a big thank you to everyone who has supported us over the past 18 months by signing our petition.
To view the petition to save the Redbridge Lane West allotments, visit wnstd.com/sta