St Annes allotment shock for cancer patient Tommy

An allotment tenant under treatment for cancer was shocked to be told he would have to give up his plots because they had not been adequately tended.

Monday, 12th November 2018, 10:13 am
Updated Monday, 12th November 2018, 1:48 pm
Tommy Lyons with the letter received from the St Annes Town Council
Tommy Lyons with the letter received from the St Annes Town Council

Tommy Lyons, 63, from Ansdell, is now in recovery after a bout of bone cancer diagnosed in February but still regularly attends hospital for bone-strengthening medication.

When fully recovered, he is eager to get back to work on the plots he has held for more than 20 years at the Shepherd Road Allotment site in St Annes.

But a letter from St Annes Town Council, which manages the town’s allotments, has advised him that “due to the deteriorating condition of the plots and the fact they have not been tended this year”, he will have to give them up and have offered him a smaller plot in their place.

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Shepherd Road allotments, St Annes

“But I want to get back to the land I am used to,” said Tommy, who has worked as a groundsman at Fairhaven Golf Club for 46 years.

“I have loved growing items on the allotment and friends have been kind enough to offer to keep it maintained. The council was aware of my illness and the letter was a real shock.”

The Town Council says Tommy had already been sent two emails before the letter to his home – but Tommy says he has no access to a computer.

In a statement, St Annes Town Council said: “The Allotment Committee and Town Council have a responsibility to ensure all plots, where possible, are being cultivated by the tenants as we have a high demand for plots and a lengthy waiting list.

“Tenants are sent two letters asking if they need any assistance. If no improvements or responses from the tenant are received, then the Town Council usually issues a Notice To Quit the plot.

“In Mr Lyons’ situation, the Town Council would usually have issued a NTQ in August 2018. However, considering the tenant’s health, both the committee and council agreed to defer a situation until the end of the yearly contract.

“At the annual health and safety inspection of the allotment site, both plots rented by Mr Lyons were determined to be in such a poor condition that they would not be safe for individual tenants to enter. The work required to bring the plot up to the required level was determined to be beyond an individual tenant and a working party of the allotment committee would be required to resolve the safety issues.

“In lieu of any contact from Mr Lyons, on November 6, the Allotment Committee and Town Council determined to offer Mr Lyons a smaller, manageable plot and we look forward to hearing from Mr Lyons about that offer.”