Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
George Bunn & Kieren Williams

Gardener, 74, could be kicked out of allotment after 28 years in vicious row over rules

A 74-year-old gardener faces being evicted from his allotment amidst a savage row over rules.

John Silvester has been accused of breaking a number of rules at Campbell Road Allotment.

The 74-year-old has been gardening there for 28 years, but after propping his tools up against other tenants’ fences he was said to have broken the rules.

Now the association behind the communal garden has levelled a number of other accusations against him, and ordered him off the green patch.

John is also said to have broken rules 12 and 17 at the site, alongside rule 14 - verbal abuse.

But the retired maintenance worker is refusing to leave his plot, where he grows onions, beetroot, potatoes and broad beans, despite being ordered to get off by May 15.

Allotment site manager Terry Davies (middle) and Secretary Graham Harrison (left) have accused John (right) of breaching his terms & conditions - an accusation he firmly denies (Pete Stonier / Stoke Sentinel)

Stoke-on-TrentLive reported that John said: "The accusations are totally unfounded. I haven't got a clue what to do.

"They sent me a letter and I was under the impression that I would go in front of them to argue my case. That never happened.

“The council told me 'you're on your own' as it is a self-managed development. The accusations being made against me are frivolous and unsubstantiated.

"I have gone 28 years at this plot without a complaint. They have accused me of doing damage, being abusive, and taking items from another allotment.

John has been gardening at the allotment for 28 years (Pete Stonier / Stoke Sentinel)

“I haven't. It is so silly. Twenty-eight years with nothing and now suddenly I am the bad guy. It is a full-time job for me. It keeps my mental health stable."

John added: "I want a proper meeting, not a kangaroo court where the outcome is already decided. It is up to them what they do. I have done 28 years of work on that plot. Doesn't that count for anything? I have had no complaints. People will often stop and ask me what I'm doing

"It is like they are trying to goad me out. The eviction date has been and gone but all my stuff is still there. I am trying to see if I can get the eviction date pushed further back. I was there for 28 years, it is like moving house.

"The garden is planted up, there are greenhouses there, and my subs are paid up until March next year. I am not hurting anybody. I have heard nothing from the council or the committee. They don't have any proof.

John has been accused of breaking a number of rules (Pete Stonier / Stoke Sentinel)

"I felt suicidal. It has been my life, it is like throwing me out of my own life. I am not a dangerous person, I do not know where they are getting this. I am a ratepayer, I am of good character, and suddenly I'm John Wayne wrecking everything. The fact is it feels like I have got no say in anything."

StokeonTrentLive has seen two letters sent to John by the committee.

The first states: "The committee has been notified that, under rule 12, you have been causing damage to fencing by resting items against their fences from your side of the fence erected by the tenants.

“When their concern has been passed on to you, they have received verbal abuse from you, thus breaking rule 14. There are also claims, again from more than one tenant, that rule 17 has been broken, in that you removed items from their plots without their permission."

The 74-year-old was said to have verbally abused someone else at the communal garden (Pete Stonier / Stoke Sentinel)

The eviction letter added: "We have informed Stoke-on-Trent City Council of our action and they agree that we have followed the correct procedure.

“Moreover, you have suffered a number of heart attacks and work on the property alone, often with your gate locked. The council agrees with us that this puts you at risk and it would be wise for you not to have an allotment with such health problems irrespective of the breaking of the rules and regulations."

Allotment site manager Terry Davies said: "The person in question broke every rule. We are a self-managed site. We have gone through all the procedures.

John was ordered to leave the allotment by the middle of this month, but has refused so far (Pete Stonier / Stoke Sentinel)

“He broke the rules and was swearing at people. We have gone to the council and it has all been done above board. We've got the rules for a reason and he broke them. We stand by our decision and rules are rules."

A council spokesman said: "The Campbell Road allotment is a self-managed allotment site. The allotments team has asked the committee which runs the site to meet with the plot-holder regarding the termination.

"The plot-holder has been informed of this. Due to the lease legalities associated with self-managed sites, Stoke-on-Trent City Council is unable to provide further comment."

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.