'You had every opportunity to move' council tells allotment holders after produce was sprayed with weedkiller

Allotment holders in Huddersfield who said prized fruit and vegetables had been “poisoned” by Kirklees Council had been given “every opportunity” to move their produce.

The council responded after tenants at Cemetery Road Allotments in Birkby, where land has been seized to provide a car park and playing fields for a new primary school, said spraying weedkiller on their plots was “incredibly mean-spirited”.

A spokesperson said growers had been given notice that work on the affected land would begin towards the end of April and that they had been offered “every assistance” to make the move “as easy as possible”.

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The council’s response comes as campaigners appear to have exhausted all legal options available to them.

Plotholders at Cemetery Road allotments, where land is at risk of being bulldozed as part of plans for a new school.

After winning a judicial review in the High Court and then seeing it overturned in the Supreme Court, they were pinning their hopes on an oral hearing to further challenge the council.

However that was refused last month.

That means they face paying costs of more than £90,000.

The row over the allotments has dragged on for more than two years. Kirklees Council has taken the upper portion of the site as part of the new £9.7m Brambles Primary Academy, which is set to open in September.

Last Wednesday tenants saw workmen spraying weedkiller on their plots.

Allotment group spokeswoman Debby Fulgoni said: “The weedkilling was ordered by Wates Construction under the guidance of Kirklees Council and undertaken by a sub-contractor. They knew we were still on those plots.

“It is obvious what this looks like – they want vacant possession by any means necessary. To not have been given the opportunity to rescue my precious plants is unforgivable I thought it was against council policy to even use weedkiller now.”

A spokeswoman for Kirklees Council said: “We have been in a lengthy process with the owners of the allotments about removing their belongings from the area and have offered every assistance to make the move as easy as possible.

“All affected plot holders were advised, in advance, that the main contractors would be commencing works with effect from April 26. We have offered every assistance to make the move as easy as possible, including providing assistance to transfer their belongings prior to this date.

“The plants that remained have been sprayed as part of the preparations for construction work. It is unfortunate that no action was taken by two plot holders to remove their belongings or plants, despite having every opportunity to work with us.

“The investment at Brambles Academy will provide modern facilities and additional space that will enrich the learning and developmental environment for our children for years to come. We are excited that the build is on track to welcome children in the September term.”