Sheffield pensioners in tears over vandalism at allotments

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Pensioners were among a group of gardeners left in tears after arsonists torched their allotment shop and broken into their sheds.

In another sickening attack at the same allotment plots vandals recently uprooted vegetables grown by a man in his 80s.

A police probe into the spate of crimes is now underway.

Allotment holder Marion McDowell, a member of the Hagg Lane Allotment Society, Crosspool, said she was devastated at the crime wave.

“When I saw the Allotment Society hut we run as a shop burnt to the ground I was in tears, it is so upsetting to think that somebody would set out to deliberately destroy it,” she said.

“We open it every weekend for allotmenteers to come along and buy their supplies and to pop in for advice, it’s a social thing for a lot of people, so this is going to cause a lot of upset.

“We have lot a lot of things such as tools, seeds and equipment. People come to us from all around.”

She said in addition to the blaze, a number of sheds were also broken into during the wrecking spree on Thursday night.

Mrs McDowell, aged 70, revealed another allotmenteer had all his vegetables uprooted during a vandalism attack the week before.

“One man, in his 80s, turned up at his allotment to find that all the vegetables he had grown had been uprooted,” she said.

“His allotment is his life so that upset a lot of people too.”

But she said gardeners are refusing to let criminals drive them out.

“There have been problems over the years with break-ins and vandalism but we will not be defeated by these people,” she said.

“It is because allotments are vulnerable, especially at night when there is nobody on them, that they become easy targets. But we all enjoy our allotments so they will not drive us out.”

Firefighters were alerted to the blaze at 11.30pm on Thursday, when regular firefighters were on strike in an ongoing dispute with the Government over pensions.

A volunteer crew responded to the 999 call after a local residents spotted flames and raised the alarm.

Anyone with information should call South Yorkshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.