Sheffield allotment tenants 'desperate' for help following repeated break-ins and vandalism
The summer of 2021 at the Marsh Lane allotments in Crosspool have been a ‘nightmare’ for the local allotment holders as they have suffered a sustained series of break-ins and vandalism.
Allotments have been broken into with over dozen separate incidents over the past few weeks, resulting in numerous broken windows, smashed locks and thefts from sheds and outbuildings.
Tenants also say trespassing has also been a problem with intruders accessing empty plots where they have used empty outbuildings and left drugs paraphernalia and even a stash of money.
Efforts to get the police and Sheffield City Council to take action have been in vain as allotment holders were told repeatedly that this kind of anti-social behaviour cannot be helped or effectively stopped.
“We were told that this is happening across other sites and that it’s up to us to strengthen our gates and shed doors,” said Amanda Pearce, one of the allotment holders.
“But every time we replace or reinforce gates and replace windows, more allotments have been targeted and some have had more than one attack.
“Bearing in mind the fact that Sheffield allotments have amongst the highest rents across the UK, with rent exceeding £200 a year in many cases, we feel we’re not getting a great deal.”
All incidents have been reported to the police and the Sheffield City Council Allotments Office, but although there have been visits from the local PCSOs, there has yet to be sight of any patrols in the area at night.
Ms Pearce added: “The Allotment Office reassured us that the vandals will move on, but week after week it keeps happening. This is a sustained, targeted and aggressive campaign by individuals who don’t appreciate all the hard work and cost that we all put in to keep our plots ship shape.”
Desperate for action from the police and Sheffield City Council, the allotment holders contacted local councillors in the Crookes and Crosspool Ward.
Coun Tim Huggan and Coun Mohammed Mahroof visited the site on Sunday September 5 to see how bad it has got for themselves.
“It was reassuring to see our local councillors respond to our request for their involvement and hopefully with their support we’ll see more action,” said Ms Pearce.
A Sheffield City Council spokesperson said: “We’re aware of incidents of vandalism at Crookes Marsh Lane allotments and we’ve been working closely with police in the area to put measures in place to deter this. We’re offering out all vacant plots on the site to stop them being misused, and we’ve put security fences and padlocks in place to make the allotments more secure.
“We’re unable to close off a public path at the back of the allotments that causes some allotment holders concern, as it’s a public right of way used by walkers, but we will continue to work with the allotment tenants to make the site as safe as possible. We appreciate the hard work and effort that goes into each plot and we want to ensure that people can visit and use them without concern.”
South Yorkshire Police has been approached for comment.