Allotment growers hit by arson, vandalism and theft at their plots in Sheffield were visited by city MP Nick Clegg - who pledged his support and called on the police to fund extra security measures.
The Sheffield Hallam MP and Deputy Prime Minister met gardeners at Hagg Lane allotments in Crosspool, where arsonists struck last month by setting a hut on fire.
Days later plot holders at the nearby Marsh Lane allotments fell victim to a similar wrecking spree, when a large shed belonging to 70-year-old Jeff Walker was burned to the ground completely.
Afterwards supporters rallied round with offers of help, and an anonymous donor even gave Jeff £1,000 when they read about his plight in The Star.
Mr Clegg paid tribute to locals in Crosspool and Crookes for their ‘heartwarming’ actions, and said he had written to South Yorkshire Police to ask for cash to pay for more robust security measures which would prevent future attacks.
“Each individual allotment plot is more than just a shed or a bit of cultivated land,” he said.
“It represents years of hard work and is the pride and joy of many a green-fingered local resident. To see plots vandalised like this is just heartbreaking.”
The MP added: “As well as offering support to allotment holders I want to pay tribute to the reaction of the local community.
“Seeing them rally round, roll up their sleeves and help has been heart-warming. They have provided a real morale boost to those affected by the attacks.
“The community have come up with a range of suggestions that could help prevent future attacks. I have contacted the police to ask that funding be made available for extra security measures.”
A public meeting attended by allotment growers, councillors and police was held last week, with nine proposals brought forward to tackle the spate of arsons.
Proposals included ensuring the gates of adjoining Crookes Cemetery are locked at night, putting up spiked fencing, starting an ‘allotment watch’ group, and working more closely with local schools.
Installing CCTV was ‘not an ideal solution’, the meeting was told - while police revealed several cannabis plants had been found on a plot at Hagg Lane after the hut was set on fire there.