St Albans allotment plot torched by arsonists in latest incident of vandalism
A woman whose allotment shed was recently torched by arsonists is at her wits' end after years of vandalism to the grounds.
The woman, who lives in St Albans but wishes to remain anonymous for fear of repercussions, was once again left devastated after the shed on her patch in Folly Lane Allotments was set alight.
The shed, built by her husband 10 years ago, has been completely burnt down following the recent arson attack on September 18, which police are currently investigating.
The woman estimates that this is the 15th time in the past four years that their property has been vandalised, and the anti-social behaviour ranges from smoking drugs, to smashing windows, marking the shed with swastikas, and generally damaging their produce.
She said: “The only people who would stay in our shed were other allotment holders and other people that we know. The police suggested that we didn’t have it as an open shed but why should we have to do that?”
This particular plot has been affected mostly in recent years, but vandalism to neighbouring allotments has been going on since they first arrived at the plot 15 years ago.
Other allotment holders regularly have their produce stolen or damaged. Those affected include some children who had recently grown pumpkins in their family allotment, only to have them smashed by trespassers.
The woman said that the fence surrounding the allotment, which borders Oysterfields housing estate, was vandalised and broken down earlier this year but the housing association responsible, Aldwyck Housing Group, failed to fix it.
She has been in touch with the district council, who own the allotment, but little has been done to prevent vandalism and concerns are mounting about the future of the grounds.
The woman said: “The guy at the council said that the housing association are in the same building and he would go and speak to them. He said this to me back in May but nothing has been done.”
But local councillor Alun Davies, who chairs the City Neighbourhoods Committee (CNC), said he will be meeting with allotment owners soon to help find a solution going forward.
He said: “The plot holders at Folly Lane have told me that the site has been plagued by vandalism for some time and I am determined to put an end to it.
“I am committed to ensure the CNC investigates what can be done to secure the site and prevent further incidents.
“As part of that review, I am to meet the Folly Lane allotment group to discuss measures to combat vandalism and how we can improve the site for plot owners.
“The CNC is responsible for ten allotment sites made up of over 700 plots and we want to keep them in top condition. Allotments are a great community asset both as a sustainable source of food and a resource for healthy living.”
Police are currently appealing for witnesses following the most recent act of arson at the Folly Lane allotment. The incident took place at about 8.45pm.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Herts Police on the non-emergency number 101. Alternatively, call independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Aldwyck Housing Group were allegedly alerted about the broken fence back in May, but it is due to be fixed soon. A spokesperson said: “When we were alerted to the damage of the fence at Folly Lane allotments we instructed its repair work immediately, the work will be carried out shortly to ensure no trespassers are encouraged to enter the allotments unlawfully.
“Aldwyck Housing Group takes all acts of vandalism on its property extremely seriously and will work with the local authorities to try and ensure no further damage is caused to both Folly Lane allotments and Aldwyck property.”