Sheffield OAP ordered to tidy up allotment or be evicted

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An 82-year-old man unable to maintain his allotment after suffering from a heart attack and pneumonia has been told by Sheffield Council he must tidy up the plot or lose his tenancy.

Denis Baxter, who spent two months in intensive care earlier this year, has lovingly tended to his fruit bushes at Meersbrook allotment three times a week for 20 years.

But Sheffield Council told Mr Baxter it has “serious concerns that the plot will never be brought into a suitable condition” and unless he improves the plot by June 30 he will be evicted.

Mr Baxter, of Bowshaw Avenue, said he cant make improvements because he is under doctor’s orders to take it easy.

“I know it is a mess at the moment. I want to get back to it but they haven’t given me the chance to do anything,” he said.

Mr Baxter said he would be able to begin working on the allotment again in three or four months time.

“The council have shown a lack of common sense. If you have had a heart attack it is unreasonable to expect someone to go and do a lot of digging again,” he said.

“I must admit I am very bitter and I wake up in the morning feeling very annoyed about it. It’s very sad.

“It’s a hobby. Especially as you get older you need something to keep you fit and an allotment is an ideal way to keep fit,” he said.

Mr Baxter added that he has been unable to repair his vandalised greenhouse at the allotment.

“Because of my age I could not climb up to repair it,” he said.

Sheffield Council said it first wrote to Mr Baxter about the poor state of his allotment in 2010 and and that he did not inform them of his ill-health until last month.

Paul Billington, director of culture and environment at Sheffield City Council said the council immediately contacted Mr Baxter offering him a half plot nearer to the entrance.

But Mr Baxter said this would not be feasible.

“That would be starting from scratch and I have cultivated an extensive fruit garden,” Mr Baxter said.

Mr Billington added: “Unless he drastically improves the plot we will have no other option but to end Mr Baxter’s tenancy. It is regrettable, but a step we will be forced to take.”

Sheffield Council added that the average waiting time for a plot at Meersbrook allotment is six to nine months.

“Given the demand for the site, the allotment office cannot allow non-cultivation to remain unchallenged,” it said.