Thoughtless youths invade allotments in Hythe

1st June 2017

MINDLESS vandals stole and broke garden chairs, pushed over sheds, kicked in gates, and damaged vegetables when they raided allotments at Eaton Lands.

The allotments were targeted by a group on the nights of Tuesday 30th and possibly Wednesday 31st May 2017 and heartbroken owners arrived at their plots to find much of their hard work destroyed.

The offenders had created a campfire site in woodland near to the allotments, and tore down tree limbs to fuel a fire. They also left empty plastic sachets, which are thought to have contained drugs and numerous empty wine, spirit and beer bottles were discarded on the site.

Zeba Rimmer is an allotment holder and a victim of the destruction at Eaton Lands. She said “I am happy to help highlight the problem and catch those behind the vandalism.”

Giles Barnard from Shepway District Council’s community safety unit was quick to survey the damage. He added: “They have been breaking chairs, damaging woodland and illegally drinking. Do their parents really know where their children are, or are they being deceived?”

Keith Miles, a Hythe Town Council member of the allotments sub-committee said the latest wrecking spree would be discussed at its next meeting. He added “This behaviour is disturbing and very disappointing. Hythe Town Council is supportive of the tenants on its allotment sites, and we will not tolerate behaviour of this sort.”

Police are investigating the incident and will be stepping up patrols in the area. They have issued an appeal for information. A spokesman for Kent Police has asked anyone with information to get in touch by calling their force control room on the non-emergency 101 number quoting Incident reference 31-1068.




Guidance to Hythe Town Council allotment holders

This consultation document is work in progress. It is not yet complete, and has not yet been approved by Hythe Town Council. When complete, it will give guidance to allotment holders on what they can expect from the  council, and what the council expects from allotment holders. 

We welcome your feedback.

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Combating vandalism and theft

Many allotment sites suffer from vandalism and theft. Sometimes it is minor such as the theft of pumpkins, squashes etc and sometimes major as has happened on sites in Hythe, involving smashing of gates, sheds being overturned, or chairs stolen.

This problem sometimes leads to plotholders just giving up. Just as you will feel violated if your house is burgled, vandalism of or theft from your plot has a severe emotional impact. It’s almost worse in a way as at least you can see a reason for the burglar – he wants to take your property to make money.

The vast majority of vandalism and theft is undertaken by children, often as young as 10 if not younger. They do it out of boredom, lack of anything better to do.

Theft is not generally very profitable on an allotment site. The value of stolen tomatoes or pumpkins is next to nothing. Tools like spades, which cost a lot of money new, are next to nothing second hand. Even rotavators have a pretty bad weight to value ratio.

How to reduce theft and vandalism on your allotment

Lock tools and chairs in a shed

Offenders are more likely to pick on a plot where tools and other valuables are left open than one where everything is out of site and inside a locked shed. Wooden sheds will still be somewhat vulnerable to being pushed over or having the door kicked in, but they are more likely to move on to somewhere where they  don’t have to make such an effort.

Increase occupancy

Increased occupancy on a site will result in more people being around and thereby deterring the culprits from coming. Since most of the problem will occur at night, when plotholders are unlikely to be around, it is only going to deter, but it will assist. Encourage your neighbours to take on an allotment. It’s not just healthy exercise and good food they will obtain, but increased security too.

Hedges

A lower cost and ecologically more beneficial method is to plant a hedge by the boundary. Plants such as Hawthorn and Pyracantha have nasty thorns that will make getting in well nigh impossible.

These bushes take up space and can create a rain shadow for vegetables. It obviously takes years to grow to such a stage as to be effective. Once grown they require regular trimming to keep them in bounds. On the plus side they increase biodiversity and provide food for birds, shelter for pest predators etc.

Social Inclusion

Since most of the trouble is likely to come from local children and youths, possibly the best answer to reducing vandalism is to include children and the local community. If the local community is aware of an allotment site, considers it of value and has some sense of ownership then they are more likely to dissuade children from undertaking acts of vandalism against the allotment and to report unusual happenings on the site.

If the children themselves appreciate the allotment site and know the plot holders then they are less likely to want to cause trouble. Better still, if they actually have a plot themselves they will discourage their compatriots from causing trouble.

Events such as open days and offering tours to the local community help in these aims. Donations of surplus produce or other services to a community will assist as well.

 

Risks on allotment sites

Allotments are not risk-free zones. Please carefully read this risk assessment in conjunction with your tenancy agreement to ensure you and visitors to the allotments stay as safe as possible.

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