Allotment War over Biodiversity

Battle on the Allotment – wildlife versus cultivation.

Most allotment holders nowadays have an interest in ecology, organic foods etc. Usually the battle is to save the allotment site from councils wanting to sell them off and develop them into houses or shopping centres. This is a totally different battle.

Harthill allotments in Liverpool are an inner city site, just three miles from Liverpool city centre and is one of two sites from the 23 in Liverpool to be recognised as ecologically important.

One of the benefits from allotments is that they provide green areas in an urban area and even overgrown allotments are useful providing a haven for wildlife and bio-diversity.

Now there is a waiting list for this allotment site in Liverpool and the site has plots in theory that have become a tiny woodland. Great news except that the area they are considering expanding the site into is a small woodland copse which provides a sanctuary and reservoir of wildlife in the city.

The woodland copse is the crucial end point of the Allerton ‘green wedge’ allowing rare species of birds and animals their last chance to penetrate into Liverpool’s urban area. The ‘lack of management’ of the site meant that in 2002 some 9 plots out of 46 lay overgrown and a haven for wildlife. Today the three plots of Harthill Copse represent the last remaining ‘wild area’ left on site.

Now this discussion has taken a strange turn – the committee has made a decision about clearing the woodland but apparently is ignoring the democratic process and railroading it’s choice in the matter through.

It raises questions about the integrity of a committee that ignores or manipulates the associations own rules to get its own way. How far can a committee go to getting its own way? Should it be allowed to ride roughshod over the strongly held views if individual members?

This issue has divided the association down the middle an it’s caused suspicion and recrimination to a point where some members are actively questioning the motives of their committee.

Are they working on behalf of or against the membership?


Posted in Rants and Raves
129 comments on “Allotment War over Biodiversity
  1. Nick B. says:

    A really interesting “situation”, this one; I see from the Tiny Woodlands website that they have recently won their battle to save the woods and having read through most of the articles on their site, I am pleased for them. However, there are always two sides to any argument, and it would have been interesting to have seen a website/comments from the committee, to get a balanced view.

  2. John says:

    Totally agree Nick – I’ve based my post on one side of what is obviously a passionate arguement on both sides but I’m very open to comments from either side –
    It covers two issues – use of land and how a site is managed both should be of much interest to alloment plotholders.

  3. Philip says:

    I agree one reason for contacting John and flagging up this issue was to get feedback from the committee and fellow allotment holders. Having won the argument to save the trees, we have now moved into a new phase of building bridges and the only way we can do this is to open up a dialogue. It may work, it may not! But whatever the case we have to try. We are interested in free speech and debate and would welcome the committee’s views on this issue. We have emailed them this link so lets see what happens!

  4. Catherine says:

    We have tried to open up dialogue with the committee who have completely stonewalled us. We feel they do not consider our views and would welcome them to join this debate and hear what they have to say for themselves! We are not afraid of free speech it is what democracy is all about! The allotment committee has continually attempted to gag our views but we are not willing to play that game!

  5. John says:

    Just to say I hope the ‘other side’ will comment – I’ll publish any comments so long as they are not defamatory etc.

  6. Helen says:

    I heard about this on radio merseyside yesterday (both on the lunchtime show and on the extra show) and I must say that I think the committee sounds like it is doing the right thing in freeing up plots for new members. In this day and age we should be encouraging families to live healthier lifestyles and allotment gardening is one of these ways. I believe the lady on the lunchtime show said that majority of these trees are self seeded sycamores – these are weeds and shouldn’t have even got to be this old. I would imagine therefore that the trees are also far too close together and would need thinning out if you were to keep the area as a wildlife area – is this correct?
    I also remember the lady on the lunchtime show mentioning a meeting of all allotment holders. Was there not a vote on this at that meeting which has led the committee to go forward and ask for the trees to be cleared? I find it hard to believe that an allotment committee could make this sort of decision on their own without consulting the rest of the allotment holders.
    I do think you need to be a little bit careful in what you do. It was mentioned on the evening show that you have put up bat boxes. These are protected species and if bats move into these boxes then you could find yourself on criminal charges due to the statutory status of allotments and the automatic change of use of the land without the proper permissions if bats were to move in.
    I haven’t looked at your website above as yet so I may have more comments when I have but I would like to hear your views on the above questions please.

  7. Philip says:

    Hi Helen, many thanks for your contribution to this debate; the matter of the trees is no longer up for debate. Liverpool City Council has already made its views very clear, including two public statements on BBC Radio Merseyside yesterday. If you want more info on our views then I am sure you will find them on our website. With regards to the bat boxes, these where only put up when we were assured that the trees where safe and done with the blessing of Liverpool City Council. It is certainly ‘criminal’ to remove the boxes as the committee did and dump them on plot 8! Even Merseyside Police agreed with that one. The boxes are registered with the Bats Protection Trust and are now the property of Liverpool City Council. This is council land and perhaps your questions should be directed towards them. With regards to the thinning out of the trees, yes you’re correct the area does need ‘management’ and thinning where needed but there are many funding sources available for this and we have already had offers of help from the Merseyside Biodiversity team. Harthill is one of only two sites across the city that has been recognised for it ecological importance. To put this into perspective there are over 1000 allotment plots in south Liverpool alone and we are talking about just 2 plots, less than 5% of the entire site at Harthill. There are also 140 vacant plots out of 23 sites across the city. We have said enough on this issue and it is pointless to argue over the semantics of this and we need to move forward as a ‘united’ association.

  8. The Green Godess says:

    I am delighted that the trees have been saved.What is more sinister is the level of bullying and intimidation allegedly taking place on site. Bat boxes, bird feeders etc have been torn down. Individual allotment holders bullied to the point where it has affected their health and people are frightened to speak out against the committee.
    The city councils statement to Radio yesterday was clear and unequivical “The trees stay”! the committe as with any other committee manage the site on behalf of the council. I understand they can withdraw that option at any time should they have serious concerns?

  9. sue says:

    This is all very interesting reading. However, i am concerned that there seems to be movement who are happy to convert allotment plots into mini nature reserves.
    Allotment plots are precious commodoties – especially in South Liverpool where there are long waiting lists and some sites won’t even add more names to their lists as they are too long.
    As i understand it the area in question are 2 actually registered plots. The whole purpose of allotment land and plots are to allow members of the community access to such land for culivation. Allotment plots themselves offer diverse biodiversity, especially as organic gardening is increasing.
    I am familiar with this site as i frequently pass by when visiting calderstones park. There are ample areas of wildlife areas. It has a perimeter of fully mature and wellspaced trees around the whole area, has a lovely developing hedgerow around the fences and has numerous nooks and crannies around it and the plots. Many of the plots themselves have wild areas on them. It is also next to a wild depot site and is only separated from the green flag calderstones park by trees and fensing. The area in question when you look throught the fence is quite clearly predominantly sycamore trees and actually sits amoungst plots. They are obviously immature trees and if they do grow to 30metres tall they are likely to wipe out many of the surrounding plots.

    I had a chat with a gentleman through the fence today who said that the committee is acting on behalf of a vast majority of allotment holders on this site- seems thay have integrety there then. Seems like the majority is more important than the view of a tiny minority.

    It is such a shame that the efforts are not directed towards improving the wildlife on the ample areas on the site that will not effect the number of available plots. It is clear that you are very passionate about this issue. Why not lobby to convert trully barren non allotment sites in Liverpool into nature reserves which would be biger and more conductive to woodland/ nature development?

    I agree with Helen above that families should have access to plots as healthier lifestyles and understanding of where food comes from is vital in this day and age when we are trying to reduce our carbon footprint. Everyone in the community should be allowed to try the trials and tribulations of being an allotment holder!

    ps I’m not supprised that the committee won’t speak to you with what you have written on the tinywoodsland website.

  10. Robert B says:

    Interesting view about the Sycamore tree being a weed; this maybe a commonly held view in allotment gardening. I have always thought of Sycamores as being a heritage tree. Indeed it has been growing in the British Isles since the ice age and while I would not particularly welcome one growing one my plot I do admire its tenacity. The Martyrs’ Tree in Tolpuddle is a lovely example of a Sycamore. I’m I alone in thinking this? I suppose its all down to what you consider weeds to be. I grow a lot of wildflowers and to me a weed is a wildflower growing in the wrong place. I think its admirable to be saving this woodland, giving nature a fighting chance- All power to your elbow.

  11. Mark says:

    I would just like to point out that if the trees continue to grow I am one of a number of plot holders who would loose out due to shade from this self seeded area, which has been there for much less than the exaggerated 30 years.

    This argument is not over as formal complaints have been made re the councils handling of the whole affair. Can I add that a democratic vote was held and later confirmed by a postal ballot which greatly supported the removal of these trees to regain allocated plots.

    I would also like to add that the committee far from being bullies have helped me and my wife learn how to embrace allotment life. They also spend lots of their own time maintaining the site to allow all, even those who seem to have a personal dislike for them, to benefit. I thank the committee for there hard work and I am sure the vast vast majority of Harthill plot holders would back me up on this.

    If the council is wanting to be green then perhaps they should be more interested in saving the trees at Otterspool and Sefton Park and also should spend money on developing the old depot site next to our allotment. I would back these actions wholeheartedly.

    It is due to the persistence of one member of our committee that ‘forgotten money’ from the sale of allotment land has been ‘ found’ by the council and is now available for allotments in Merseyside.

    Just because I want these plots reclaimed it does not make me the son of Satan I have weighed up both sides to the argument and feel it is more important to provide people in the local area to have an allotment in the local area ie not have to drive to plot to the other side of the city

    It is interesting to note that the very few in the Harthill allotment site who want to prevent locals having plots, ie keeping the trees, will not in anyway be affected by the trees growth and therefore shade in future years.

    I also feel that it is inappropriate to use inaccurate facts on this matter on the internet and broadcasted on the radio. The person who did speak on the radio does not speak for the allotment site at all and this should be high lighted. I will not be adding to this site again on this matter as I would not like to start an unprofessional argument I just feel I have to clarify some points due to questions and comments above.

    PS John H Can I say the recipe section on your site is great.

  12. sue says:

    It is not illegal to move bat boxes if there are no bats living in them. The bat protection league and trust will happily survey boxes for you and relocate them to more suitable sites.

  13. Philip says:

    Sue, Many thanks for your contribution and I must say you seem to be very passionate and knowledgeable about it yourself. I would be forgiven for thinking that you may have a vested interest in this yourself? With regards to Helen’s comment on Land use and Sue’s comment on Nature Reserves, think about this; allotment land is made up of very many different ‘land use’ for example the land used to house a communal shed, the land used for car parking space, the land used for pathways and dumping rubbish, the list goes on and on, land use changes all the time but we don’t necessarily need a court order or some other kind of permission to do so. We are living in an age of unprecedented global change, wildlife species are under pressure like never before, gardens are being paved over for cars and lost to wildlife, hedgerows have disappeared at an alarming rate. Common species like the Starling and House Sparrows have declined by over 60% since the 1980’s. Is it too much to ask for 5% of an allotment site to be left for wildlife? Many Gardeners are waking up to the fact that going organic and setting aside areas for wildlife may be the only option we have. It all starts in our own back garden. Global warming is happening here and now- not on the Television!! We can all do something to help our environment. There are some fine examples of how allotments can go green- Chiswick Allotments in London is a perfect example of what can be done link: also Surrey Organic Gardeners. In Liverpool – Mersey Road and Pitville Allotments are both developing wildlife areas within the allotment site. We firmly believe that wildlife areas should be developed as a matter of course, an essential part of the whole allotment experience. It’s a resource for all allotment gardeners weather they realise it our not. It’s not just about growing veg! It’s all down to your attitude to nature, you can work with nature or against it, but if you choose the latter you pay the price. Also, this red herring of in some way being against or denying family’s plots is a nonsense. We are all in favour of developing allotments, one reason why one or our members appeared on Radio Merseyside yesterday evening without barely a mention of this issue. If the committee was so concerned about reducing the waiting list why don’t members with multiple plots relinquish them for persons more deserving? These trees have been on-site for over 30 years. I’ve been at Harthill for over 12 years and the woodland was mature then. All the independent reports on this matter support our view on the value of the area. Also the issue with members voting and the democratic process at Harthill; I suggest you read carefully over some of the articles on our website!

  14. John says:

    Thanks for the comment on the recipe section, Mark – that’s my wife’s baby.
    I’m glad to see that everyone on both sides of this debate has kept the discussion polite despite it obviously being an emotive issue where feelings are running high.
    I’ve not had to moderate any comments at all! Thank you.

  15. Philip says:

    Thanks for allowing this discussion John, great website, it’s been very interesting to get counter views on this issue 😉

  16. Philip says:

    Mark, the person who appeared on the Radio at no time indicated that she was speaking on behalf of Harthill, indeed she went out of her way to state that, in the same way that you don’t speak on behalf of Harthill. But the idea of free speech is just that and I am really pleased that you decided to air your view here. I hope you do continue to contribute and I personally don’t consider you to be “the Son of Satan!” I hope you don’t see yourself in this light lol

    Our issue has always been about the trees and I have no personal gripe with anybody unless they have a personal gripe with me!! to put this all into perspective take a look at Google Earth and find Harthill Copse, opps! sorry overgrown plots!- Worlds within Worlds………

  17. Mark says:

    Philip. I do hope you are fighting to save the trees at otterspool and sefton park and also for development of the old depot site then nature will really benifit for your actions.
    We need areas for car parking as there are not enough local plots available if we do not provide more plots localy more people will have to drive to a far away plot and more land would have to be put aside for car parking oh the irony of it all.
    We need a shed to keep tools in it. need pathways to walk between plots safely and burning piles and rubbish areas for obvious reasons. We personal compost the vast majority of green waste. we do not need a wild life area as we are in the middle of one of the most beautiful parks in liverpool. The wildlife around is due to this and not the area in our allotment. Push the council to develop the old depot site and you would have the whole allotment on your side not just a small handfull.
    As to multiple plots I do hope you are not suggesting I have more than one.
    Re the stem this is not a war. This is a disagreement and unfortunately one side of the argument has beeen refused the right to answers to appropriate questions and complaints. A bit like having a referee on ones side from the start.

    re the green goddesses comments I allways thought a committe is there to support the site, help those in need with in that site and more importantly to take the majority and democratic opinion of the whole group ( which they are doing ). If a minority do not like the committee and feel so strongly about them perhaps they should think about moving to one of ‘the many plots I have been informed are available in the area. I am sure 99% of the allotment would prefer that than losing our committee.

    I would love to know the size of the waiting lists of the allotments in merseyside, wether the are not taking new names due to the size and the post codes of those people on the list to show that a local plot is important to people.

    Any way i said I wouldn’t email on this subject again didn’t I ………

    Oh well the best laid plans of mice (preferably not those eating my produce)
    and men. (to abuse a qoute)

  18. Helen says:

    Wow, this is getting to be an interesting read, I’ll keep coming back to this.
    Sue – you are absolutely correct with your comment regarding bat boxes. They can be relocated with the help of the local bat group and I would urge the committee / council / group of people who put them up to move them before they become inhabitted, assuming they aren’t already.

    Phillip – Your tinywoodlands website says that ‘someone acting on behalf of the committee’ relocated the bat boxes to plot 8 – does this mean that in actual fact you don’t know who it was and it could have been anyone? These people may not have relocated them with the help of a local bat group but giving that they had only been up a few days they can be fairly certain that bats would not have found them yet and therefore in my eyes they did nothing wrong. Obviously in the eyes of Merseyside Police as well if noone has been charged with the act.
    I don’t think anyone – even the committee from Mark’s comments – are denying that wildlife if a commodity to an allotment. It sounds to me from Sue’s comments that there could be areas of the site that could be unusable as allotment plots which could be as valuable an asset as this wooded area is currently for wildlife and by adapting these areas and maximising their potential everyone would be a winner – wouldn’t they? Just because the allotment committee (and the majority of the allotment holders by the sounds of it) want to create more plots for people doesn’t mean that they are against biodiversity and wildlife.

    Biodiversity is ripe on allotment plots, OK it is different from having a wooded area but it is still a very important commodity. Allotment holders can be encouraged to have their own little areas dedicated to wildlife on their plots, the hedging around the site sounds like a fabulous idea and if everyone does their bit then this site could have the best of both worlds I feel. The information regarding trees, shrubs, flowers etc on your website is great. If it wasn’t for all the comments about others at the allotments then I would highly recomend it. It makes you look like you are bearing a massive grudge against a group of people who simply have a different opinion to yourselves. Is this the case?

    It would be interesting to find out from someone with records when this area was last let as plots as there seems to be some dispute over this with Mark saying much less than 30 year and Phillip saying at least 30 years. Is there anyone from the committee out there with some facts.

    What help have Merseyside biodiversity team offered?

    There is so much more to say but I’ll post this for now and see what response I get. I must say I love a good debate.

  19. lamby says:

    As a plot holder who wishes to keep the trees, I agree with Robert B that the sycamore rather than being ‘a weed’ makes an excellent ecological contribution.
    According to the Woodland Trust “its bark is an important substitute for elm, hosting rare mosses and lichens; and it supports a greater volume of insects (mainly aphids) than any other widespread tree – vital for tits, chaffinches and goldcrests in years when food is hard to come by.”
    Regarding Mark’s comment on the age of the trees, I don’t think an estimate of 30 years age for a stand of fifty foot high trees is a ‘greatly exaggerated’. Would he suggest ten to fifteen years? This is mainly sycamore, not bamboo.
    Mark suggests that ‘If a minority do not like the committee and feel so strongly about them perhaps they should think about moving’. I live very close to my allotment, do not drive and have spent several years tending to and growing to love my plot. I do not want to move, thank you, and for one plot holder to suggest it to another is unhelpful in this debate and against the whole ethos of allotment gardening.
    Similarly the implication of ‘why don’t you go and fight for some trees in other places’ is absurd. I would never suggest he stage a one-man protest outside the Menlove Allotments wildlife plot!
    Thank you Sue on the friendly advice on how to get rid of the bat box nuisance, I take it you looked it up in the Rentokill encyclopaedia somewhere between Ants and Cockroaches.

  20. lamby says:

    Regarding my previous email, I am sorry to sound flippant or inflexible on the issue of bat boxes, especially this early in the debate. After all, I agree with many of Sue’s points on the wildlife potential of other parts of the site, and my comment is made out of genuine frustration, not malice.
    However if the woodland did not contain bat boxes, the Council would still have made the same decisions in keeping with its own Open Space Study of 2005 regarding wildlife conservation on allotments. I quote from p162 para 11.52.
    ‘Allotments present the opportunity to provide links in the wildlife corridors, as they are often very rich and diverse in habitat range. The margins and empty plots are usually left un-maintained, allowing naturally occurring species to become established in these areas. They are a valuable resource within the environment and should be protected.’
    The continued desire to remove the bat boxes, therefore represents a total rejection of the Council’s decision as landlord of the site, making it difficult to move forward, even at the first hurdle.
    There is an important issue here, should decisions to fell woodland to reclaim ancient plots be taken by Allotment Associations with little knowledge of nature conservation.
    The close proximity of the park and log store strengthens the argument for retaining the woodland, not weakens it. I refer to the report of Dr Richard Burkmar on the Tinywoodlands website.
    Undoubtedly the woodland will need to be managed for the benefit of both wildlife and plot holders. An independent body such as The Merseyside Biodiversity Trust (who have visited and reported on the site) has real expertise in advising in this area. They may suggest some selective thinning, pollarding and coppicing of trees, mainly to increase biodiversity, but could take into account any concerns about shade. I personally would have no problem with an independent shade survey.

  21. Mark says:

    If you read my email re relocating if not happy with the superb committe we have this is a response to the green goddess coments on asking the council to remove the comittee. I stated that 99% of the allotment are whole hartedly for this committee and would not want them removed. if the few that have what seems a personal vendeta against said committee do not and can not work with them their are suposedly a lot of plots around liverpool available then given a choice…….
    I see you are lucky to live localy and not need to drive LUCKY YOU 6 other people in half plots could have the same opportunity if the sycamores were cut down. Sycamores do very little for the bird population. Growing veg etc creates exellent areas for insects.

    Can I emphasise if it was not for one of the committee members the allotment sites in liverpool would not have several 100 thousand pounds allocated. Due to persistant reminding, the council finaly remembered that the money they made in selling of allotment land rightfully belongs to the rest of the allotments in the region.
    Thanks again

    Doesn’t sound like a good reason to remove a committee who is all but fully supported by the plot holders and have true allotment beliefs.

    Again the beliefs of the few should not outweigh the thoughts of the many. I am an inteligent person with differing veiws to a vast minority. This is not a split at our alotment this suggests equal numbers it is more of a slpinter that want to refuse the right of locals a plot which is a designated plot.
    Again I am not the son of Satan i love an embrace nature. In cultivating a plot I am doing my bit for biodiversity.
    Hiting me with quotes from paragraphs… perhaps read the multiple stems in the forums hear about poeple being angry about sale of allotment lands and the statutary laws protecting Allotment Land for the use of people to grow thier own produce and get exercise. Nature can have the Depot site whhich should be developped and the whole of the park which is vast in size rarther than the allotment being in the middle of the city that readers may be lead to believe. If it was in the middle of the city their may be an argumenmt but their isn’t..This is not finalized an email from the council promises this will not become a wildlife site. Complaints are and should be dealt with against the council handeling of this affair and I myself will think twice about voting them in again.

    It is not the minorities allotment plot. They should not be able to do what they want against the committee and the rest of the allotment holders.

    re ‘should decisions to fell woodland to reclaim ancient plots be taken by Allotment Associations with little knowledge of nature conservation’ actually these decissions should be taken by people who have knowledge of allotmenting, Allotment law and the knowledge that they can provide others with plots as the waiting list is so high.

    i hope I haven’t been flippant.

  22. Helen says:

    ‘Allotments present the opportunity to provide links in the wildlife corridors, as they are often very rich and diverse in habitat range. The margins and empty plots are usually left un-maintained, allowing naturally occurring species to become established in these areas. They are a valuable resource within the environment and should be protected.’

    This is a very intersting point but could be taken in many ways. As I suggested yesterday, maximising the potential of little areas around the plot that can not be cultivated can provide just as must in terms of a wildlife corridor and biodiversity as 2 plots dedicated to wildlife can.

    I still believe that the health of the nation outweighs the need to keep these plots as a wildlife area but that does not mean that I don’t support the need to introduce ways in which to enhance wildlife on allotment plots as well. I strongly believe that you could create a very good wildlife area elsewhere on the plot freeing up these plots to be felled.

    I understand lamby’s comments about sycamores but I still stand by the fact that these trees are in fact weeds, they are just weeds that have been allowed to grow, unfortunatey due to the unpopularity of allotments a few years ago. This area of the allotment site is designated as 2 individual plots and as such does fall within the statutory land laws. I appreciate Philips comment regarding carparks, huts etc but I have read in many places that if you want to change the status of allotment plots then you have to do so by applying for the use of the land to be changed and this has to be done with a majority decision by the allotment association for that site. As you appear not to have this support from the allotment association this application can not be made.

    I have taken this quote from one such website regarding the statutory rules of allotments but there are far more better examples – this is just what time allows
    “If allotment land is statutory, i.e. provided for the sole purpose of being used as allotment land, it cannot be sold or used for other purposes without the consent of the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Goverrnment. The criteria that would need to be met are: 1. Allotment is either not necessary and is surplus to requirements, 2. The council will give displaced plot-holders adequate alternative sites, unless this is not necessary or practical, 3. The council has taken a number of people on the waiting list into account, 4. The Council has actively promoted and publicised the availability of allotment sites and has consulted the National Society of Allotment & Leisure Gardeners. The allotment authority must consult plot holders, and any application will be dealt with by the Government Office for the Region.”

    I have also seen a website which specifically mentions wildlife areas as being a change in use of allotment plots but can’t find it at this very moment in time. I have the website at home and if I can find it will post the quotes from that as well.

  23. Gareth says:

    I am currently number 15 on the waiting list for Harthill Allotment.

    I don’t have concerns for the small number of species that may be present within the aforementioned trees in Harthill Allotments as there seems to be many other diverse environments where these animals can thrive within the whole of Calderstones Park as well as other sites within South Liverpool. I have a greater concern, as I believe all within the allotment movement will have, with the size of my carbon footprint on this planet. I believe the growing of my own produce, within the nearest allotment to my home, will reduce the my purchasing of vegetables grown as far a field as South America and Asia and also the reduction of chemical ingestion used modern growing techniques and pest management.

    I would like to thank the committee for fighting against a hypociritical pseudo-environmental campaign to give the opportunities for others to enjoy the use of an allotment

  24. Philip says:

    GARETH: if you are number 15 on the waiting list for Harthill, knocking these trees down is going to make very little difference to you! You’ll still have another 10 people in front of you desperate to get a plot! What’s your point? If we knock these trees down there will still be a waiting list, possibly longer than the one we have now. With regards to your comment “hypocritical pseudo environment campaign” from what do you base your evidence on? You obviously know very little about us, anybody with half a brain should have realised by now that we are not new to campaigning and with regards to the other environmental campaigns mentioned above, I personally have taken a great deal of interest in them. I am a long term member of The RSPB, The Bats Conservation Trust, The North of England Zoological Society for Conservation. If that makes me ‘pseudo’ or ‘hypocritical’ then so be it.
    It would be helpful if for credibility’s sake to make statements on what you actually know and not on what you THINK you know!

    MARK: I am really pleased you have decided to carry on contributing to this “Unprofessional argument” It’s good to talk don’tcha think  With regards to your remark to “the Son of Satan” I certainly do not think of you or anybody else who has apposing views in such a light. Whatever gave you that idea? Why on earth would we start this forum if we thought that? I hope it’s not how you see yourself; if so WHO is Satan? (Laugh on Line!)
    Also your comment “the beliefs of the few should not outweigh the thoughts of the many” Have you ever seen the Nazi film – The Triumph of The Will from 1935. This line could have been taken directly from that film. Taken to its logical conclusion, The British Isles were in a ‘minority’ in 1939 but that doesn’t mean that we were wrong!
    Without getting into a ‘numbers’ game; the estimates of people for and against this argument have been grossly exaggerated. (Where does 99% come from?) At the beginning of this campaign we were indeed ‘few in numbers’ (but does that make us wrong?) ponder this; Why on earth would such a small number of allotment holders ‘take up arms’ against the majority? We are taking a great risk; we have a lot to loose. Why would we go to the trouble of setting up a website, lobby councillors and council officials, attend meetings, write letters etc? There are real issues about democracy at Harthill, how it’s interpreted and exactly what it means. It’s not just about counting the numbers of hands in the air. It’s about debate and respect for the strongly held views of other members and not the manufacturing of a result or a rallying of the troops. The committee has dealt with this issue in an appalling manner. They have extremely poor management and people skills and the fact that this issue has been brought out into the public domain bears witness to this. We have asked Liverpool City Council for a full and comprehensive investigation into this matter and pending this I would not wish to comment any further and would suggest that this is not the forum for this issue.

    HELEN: With regards to your comments on the Bat Boxes being “relocated” the bat boxes where NOT “relocated” they where stolen! They did not belong to the committee or any other member at Harthill Allotments. They where donated by us to Liverpool City Council to mark the saving of Harthill Copse. Merseyside Police did indeed ring the secretary expressing this view. Apparently the secretary knew nothing about the boxes removal and yet following the intervention of the police the boxes suddenly appear at the back of plot 8? Please do not underestimate or resolve, if they had not been returned we would have taken the matter further. With regards to your website comments; I’m really pleased you found something positive to say about the wildlife information, some common ground there then 😉 If you read though carefully you may realise that the website was set up as a political tool and not just to document wildlife. If we are denied the opportunity to communicate on-site, if posters are torn down and wildlife reports are removed then how are we to communicate? We have attempted to open up dialog on many occasions all to no avail. This is freedom of speech Harthill style. You can say anything you wish as long as it is not against the committee. The committee should act on behalf of ALL members, even those ‘in a minority’ With regards to a “massive grudge” where does that grudge lie? Our fight has always been about the trees and democracy not about personalities. That’s a perception that again lies in the realms of myth rather then fact. We have no”grudge” against anybody living or dead, life’s to short. When this matter is resolved, and it will be resolved the website will be amended accordingly.

    In conclusion: reading through some of the above comments I did suddenly lose the will to live! We started this forum in an effort to build bridges but it seems to be entrenching views; some people seem more interested in ‘playing the game’ and attempting to ‘win’ than finding common ground. I have never known a group of people SO determined to remove an innocent piece of woodland, without a vested interest such as property development. It seems to be about WINNING at all costs. They just don’t want to lose. Your arguments have no moral stance on this and are fundamentally weak.

    We where originally called Harthill Wartime Allotments; There is a recipe on the internet on how to make bombs from manure, so don your tin hat, build your air raid shelter and get ready for the fall out! – There’s plenty of manure flying around 😉

    I’m sure it was more peaceful down here in 1940 🙂

  25. John says:

    I’m sorry but I have to come in here – “the beliefs of the few should not outweigh the thoughts of the many” was answered by Spock in Star Trek when he died in the reactor not Triumph of the Will – 🙂

    Please – everyone – remember that the person you disagree with is probably a very nice person who you’d enjoy having a drink with. I find that makes things a lot easier.

  26. Philip says:

    Dam ‘it, Star Trek 2 – The Wrath of Khan! I knew that phrase was familiar. I’ve even got the Star Trek Encyclopaedia, A reference guide to the future! I’ll use it next time, perhaps a quote from the Borg may be appropriate? 🙂

  27. Mark says:

    Democracy is about the majority.
    How can you liken this to Nazi germany I find that offensive.
    The Committee is very professional and have the allotment ethos as the centre of their agenda. It has been a single counciler who has lacked inpartiality who have been unprofessional and has been the problem here- they have driven a wedge between the the majoritry and minority. If they were professional from the beginning this would never have gone this far. Funny how they never responded to complaints from us and answered your side immediatly (might have something to do with certain people canvasing for vote for the said counciler and are who are friends (conflict of interest i think).

    Re Your argument against Garath, what not worth him having an opinion re getting closer to having an allotment? What about the 6 people who could have plots or half plots in front of him?. It’s altright for you have access to an allotment.
    You have no insight about how your behaviour and actions has been instrumental in creating bad feeling at Harthill Allotments. I personaly have been shouted at by your group and others have had this unprofessional action agaainst them. If you want to build bridges on this matter then you need to stop blaming everyone else. Accept that all parties including yourselves have not handled this in the best manner. Maybe then other allotment holders stop avoiding conversations with you as they want to avoid the inevitable incriuminations which always occur.

    How can the commitee both remove the trees and keep them. they have to take an informed desision and come up with and answer thankfully the majority vote in this case. As a compromise though they requested that they could clear 2 and leave one plot (C O M P R O M I S E).

    The commitee have all but a few who would back them 100% if you are planning to complain against then.

    Who donated the bat boxes? This could be construed as unproffessional as untill the council has the ok from the government they do not have the right to change purpose of this statutary land.

    I do so hope you have not lost the will to live this would really ruin my day.
    You never started this forum to build bridges you are fully aware that the discission to keep the trees is not final and is being contested.
    Philip are you a registered plot holder? … NO, so you do not have a vote on this matter.
    I have never known a group who are so against the Allotment ethos and who are fighting to block others from having the chance to grow produce and be healthier.

    Allotment: from the dictionary a small piece of usully public land rented by an individual for cultivation.

  28. Mark says:

    re losing the will to live comment. It would actualy ruin my day as i would not like anyone to come to harm. Sorry about that comment. We are all getting frustrated as we are all passionate about our beliefs. I am sure you do exellent work with the various groups you are a member of I just see things differenty than you on this issue.

  29. Gareth says:


    I may have ‘half a brain’, as it seems that I am going to waste my time trying to get into dialogue with a person who believe 10 is greater than 14 (my place on the waiting list minus [take away, if you need explanation] the number of plots that will be made on the clearance of the ‘substantial’ wooded area. I believe that the people above me on the waiting list will also move up and be nearer to get a plot for themselves and the people who are at number 1 and 2 will be actually get a plot.

    I am sorry but you will win hands down if you are going to start quoting Star Trek against me because when you where sitting in a darkened room learning every episode word for word to discuss with your ‘friends’ I was at University reading Environmental Chemistry looking at global issues.

    As an active member of an Environmental Campaign group looking at global issues as well as local I believe that this is a “hypocritical pseudo environment campaign” as you are quoting that Liverpool City Council are fully supporting the decision to keep the trees whilst felling others across the city and allowing the loss of Stanley Park; is this not hypocritical? I believe it is ‘pseudo-environmental’ as the area is not going to be lost to wild life but developed into areas which are equally if not more likely to support wild life insitu with the diverse environment of Calderstones Park.

  30. Philip says:

    MARK: Democracy is not about the majority it’s about freedom of speech. Something that you have here and something that has been denied to us at Harthill. With regards to your “single councillor” comment, I would be interested in knowing where that kind information came from? I know for a fact that the information is deeply flawed. We started this campaign in January, in a losing position (having lost an unconstitutional vote!) We knew NOBODY at Liverpool City Council, Elected or otherwise. If that indicates a “conflict of interest” then I I’m completely lost for words! It is true that as the campaign has progressed certain people have come out to support our cause! That’s a natural development and we have indeed made NEW friends through the process, but to imply that some kind of ‘nepotism’ going on is very wrong and could be viewed as liable. I would be VERY careful about going down that road. According to you, it seems that whenever the City Council makes a decision then they are in some way being biased. Just can’t win!! With regards to having no insight on our “behaviour and actions” just remember we do not ‘manage’ Harthill Allotments. Our “behaviour and actions” are a result of the “behaviour and actions” of a committee causing division. The C O M P R O M I S E you mentioned was a farce and if you want to read the full story on this then visit our website.
    The rest of the stuff is just not worth covering except to say my “will to live” comment was made with tongue firmly in cheek. I haven’t really lost the will to live. Mark, you actually make life more interesting 🙂

    GARETH: I NEVER, EVER sat in a darkened room quoting Star Trek word for word however I find the imagery very amusing. It’s true I did have a very misspent youth. While you where busy reading at University I was busy travelling the world, teaching people how to be better citizens. I won’t bore you with exactly what I was doing just to assure you – It was worthwhile! With regards to the city council and ourselves. We are not joined at the hip and what goes on in Stanley Park has absolutely nothing to do with OUR campaign here at Harthill. Next thing is you’ll be blaming us for invading Iraq 🙂

    When two tribes go to war a point is all that you can score!

  31. Little Cantina says:

    I have read with interest this debate, having been an allotment holder myself ( not in Liverpool) I cannot understand why you cannot worked together? I appreciate that there are people who need plots, but I also agree that allotments need wild spaces. I also know that allotment committees can sometimes be very regimented in their views, and maybe it’s the entire ethos of how our allotments are managed up and down the country that needs to change. We need to embrace the practices of organic gardening and realise that wildlife does play a very important role for us as allotment gardeners. Have there been any comments from your committee members? Usually when individuals put their names down for plots they always apply to more than one site and usually take the first offer made to them. It is not always the case that you will have a site on your doorstep, lots of people travel across cities to their allotment sites and are happy to do so! I will continue to view with interest the comments that are being made and would hope your committee can contribute?

  32. Philip says:

    Good point Little C but I would be surprised if the committee would even bother to soil its hands in such a grubby debate 😉

    MARK: Sorry, I forgot to respond to your remark on weather I was a “registered plot holder?” well according to the committee at Harthill I am not. Indeed according to them I have no rights whatsoever. In constitution or anything else for that matter, technically I suppose, I could even be prosecuted for trespassing! This all came about as a result of a “Primary Plot Holder Rule” that the committee has implemented allowing only one vote per plot. This is yet another example of ineptitude and the erosion of rights at Harthill. When I took this plot on with my partner over 12 years ago I did indeed have full ‘voting rights’ and indeed we took this plot on as a joint venture. It still IS a joint venture but now I find I have no rights! It’s a case of everybody being equal but some being more equal than others. This “Primary Plot Holder Rule” is unfair on many counts, not least because no vote means no say and also, if something happened to my partner then I can technically be thrown off OUR plot. It means that all the cards are in favor of the committee and that’s undemocratic. There must be a more common sense way that doesn’t discriminate or creates an uneven hierarchy. Starting with two votes per plot would help! This is my own personal little baby, so please rest assured that I will do everything in my power to overturn this rule.

    Also another point about “the Allotment ethos” I would never dream of questioning the commitment of individual committee members. I am pretty certain they are on the whole decent upstanding people. Working for no money on behalf of all allotment holders; I am however questioning the methods being used that have bought us to the situation we now find ourselves. Your conclusion that we are blocking others “from having the chance to grow produce and be healthier “is totally misleading and untrue.

    Nothing new there then 😉

  33. Catherine says:

    If you take a look at the work carried out by Cheshire Biodiversity Partnerships over the last ten years then you will see what they aim to achieve in terms of their Biodiversity Action Plan. This also includes allotments and gardens; here are some of the threats in relation to allotments listed in the action plan:
    • Ignorance of the potential value of gardens and allotments for wildlife
    • Misguided Management
    • Inappropriate use of chemicals
    • Use of inappropriate materials, eg peat, timber from inappropriate or unsustainable sources
    • Filling in of ponds because of safety concerns
    • Inappropriate choice of boundary design, creating barriers to wildlife
    • Poor public image of a “wildlife” garden that is perceived as untidy
    • Proliferation of inappropriate garden products in the consumer market

    We have our own Urban Trees Habitat Action Plan in place on Merseyside (Merseyside Biodiversity Partnership) to increase the urban tree population:
    “Maintain the current tree population and increase it by 2015”
    The NM BAP is supported by Liverpool City Council and in the report put together by Dr Richard Burkmar- Biodiversity Manager he recommends the retention of the woodland at Harthill Allotments because it is an important part of the urban tree habitat and its destruction would adversely affect progress towards the targets of the NM BAP. We also have reports from Lancashire Wildlife Trust, the local RSPB, and the Nature Conservation Officer at Liverpool City Council, all in favour of keeping the woodland for its wildlife value and in turn how that can benefit allotment holders.
    There are a lot of people in support of keeping this woodland; are you saying that they are ALL WRONG?

    If you care to take the time, maybe you could familiarise yourselves with the Liverpool Open Space Study (NOV 05 Atkins), it’s a lengthy document, but well worth the read, you will find it on the City Council Website. This study also indicates the value of neglected and uncultivated plots on allotments and what a fantastic resource they are for maintaining our wildlife population, I won’t quote you I would much prefer you read it for yourselves.

    I know of many allotments sites that have areas set aside for wildlife here on our doorstep, (with the backing of their committee and they still have a waiting list!): Menlove Rd Site, Mersey Rd, Pitville Allotments to name but a few and further afield Chiswick Allotments have done a fantastic job in creating a wildlife area from unused plots, as have Surrey Organic Gardeners who transformed an area of a small number of plots into a nature reserve 12 years ago and is still thriving today!

    As a tax payer in this City, I would not like to see £3,000 (estimated cost) wasted in the destruction of bulldozing this woodland. We are talking about two plots (£60 per year). We will have a waiting list whether the woodland is here or not! So there is no argument- the committee should be putting its energy into lobbying the council for more allotment land and not arguing over two plots out of 1,000 in South Liverpool. There are also 140 plots vacant throughout the 23 site across the city and I agree with a comment made earlier that when people apply for a plot they usually apply to a number of sites and take whatever offer comes first.
    Liverpool is aiming to become the Greenest City, do you not think as residents we have a role to play in this?

    I take offence to the comments made with regards to the councillor involved, we had contacted many people before we decided upon this route, most of them were working professionally in an environmental capacity and the councils decision was based on a lot more information than one councillor making a presumed biased decision!

    People campaign profusely to prevent trees being felled from the usual property developers; in all my time on this earth I have never come across a group of people who have been so adamant in wanting to get rid of a small group of trees, in one breadth and then claiming to be environmentally aware in the other.
    We would welcome comments made by committee members.

  34. sue says:

    Phillip There seems to be nothing wrong with the one plot, one vote rule. As one assumes you and partner have the same view it would seem that you have not been disadvantaged by this fact. For those plots that are in joint names the one plot one vote would still be upheld on all counts. Seems that is democratic to me. I think it would be very unlikely that if anything happened to your partner you would be ‘thrown off the plot’.

    Not a nice thing to suggest that that would be the case. I think you are making an assumption that if everyone listened to your views on the site and others, that people would change their minds. Whether you think the compromise was a farce or not, don’t make the assumption that your views would prevail. All this conversation and setting up of what you now call a ‘ political’ website is not doing anything to make you more amenable to others. Have you not just tried speaking to others when you see them? It may be going some way to answer little cantinas question why you are not all working together.

    Don’t you think that the views of those who want to reclaim the plots have value? The statement of yours ‘you can work for nature or against it’ implies you have black and white view. If the trees did go then it would not be replaced by concrete but by a biodiversity of its own. There is ample room on the site as a whole to incorporate improved environments. Have you not tried talking about this to the committee to get some common ground? What do you think will be gained by the constant slating of the committee? If you want to build bridges with the committee and the allotment site as a whole you are going about it in the completely wrong way. If you don’t think ‘this is the forum for this issue’ then why have you posted this and many of your defamatory statements openly on the web? Are you going to blame the committee for all the ills?

    If you have already put a complaint in asking for a full and comprehensive investigation about this to the council, why have you posted all this on the web? If the committee has managed to ensure that there is money allocated for the allotment sites across Liverpool they can’t be all bad. This is highly commendable as there needs to be funds available to maintain allotment sites. As with all other council funds money is always tight. Mark has a good point on what would the compromise be? If after all the complaints have gone through and the definitive outcome is that the trees stay- you will have to build bridges to take this forward as they will need to be optimally managed. If the trees go, if not now but in the future- what will you do then? Would you be speaking up for wildlife for the other areas around the site?. Why haven’t you been pursuing this all this time?

    Helen has brought some interesting facts about the land protection. It may be that this could be instrumental in proceedings. It will be interesting if this gets weighting in the investigation that you have requested. It is also interesting to note as highlighted by mark that you don’t have trees at the bottom of your plot. As the trees are in amongst allotment plots I do have some sympathy for those holders who will see their plots engulfed by shade [big shade if the sycamores grow to full height and spread and are to the south of the plots]. And yes you can cultivate land in shade but obviously not as good as when you can have some access to sun. At least Lamby has considered this view and an independent review would have to paramount in any future plans.

    Also sycamores are not native to the UK and have not been here since the ice age. Sure they can be an impressive tree in the right context no one is denying that.

    On a slightly different brighter note is anyone here going to start lobbying the council about the old depot site? Now that is a place conducive to wild life conservation and would only support the parkland and allotment site. Have you got the Merseyside biodiversity team around to look at that site? Just think that would be a good idea to pursue this in the future as I don’t think this site [immediately next door to Harthill allotments] has a committee!

    This maybe something to think about in the future. Please tell me you are not still listening to Frankie goes to Hollywood albums. .

  35. lamby says:

    I am sorry Mark, a democratic meeting was not held. The Secretary refused on three occasions to give me and others an exact time of the Jan 27th General Meeting to vote on the future of the trees (bizarre but look at the Tinywoodlands website). This delay resulted in members not being informed of the time of the vote by post as per the Constitution. Several plot holders have complained that if they had been informed, they would have voted for the retention of the trees. I mention this because you continually talk about the tiny minority based on the subsequent vote. This may not have resulted in a change in the decision, but that does not make it democratic, i.e. the freedom to express one’s views. It is telling of the spirit of intimidation on the site that one person who voted for the felling of the trees, when hearing that the Council had vetoed the decision, came up to me and said ‘well done!’
    The illegal expulsion (admitted by the Committee) of one lady who wanted to vote for keeping the trees remains ‘the worst case of adult bullying I have ever seen’ but I suppose it kept the others in line.

    I mention this because you have described our Committee as, and I quote ‘superb’. Sue says they have ‘integrity’ (based on the talks through the fence with a total stranger) and Helen (who lives somewhere in the Radio Merseyside catchment area)
    says they are doing the ‘right thing’. Gareth, (who has just joined the waiting list) thanks the Committee for fighting against a ‘hypocritical pseudo-environmental campaign’. Gareth, what makes you so angry? Are you suffering from the ‘Harthill Effect’ You have only just filled in the form, to be put on the waiting list for an allotment … relax! This is somewhere to grow veg, contemplate your navel, don’t worry you will not be consigned to some eternal allotment limbo. Given the high turnover on the site (surprise) you won’t have to wait long.

  36. Mark says:

    Liverpool is aiming to become the Greenest City, do you not think as residents we have a role to play in this?

    Lets back the council that allows the choping down over a hundred trees in Otterspool and want to chop down more in Sefton.

    I now remove myself from this discussion


  37. Catherine says:

    Before you leave us Mark I would just like to say, we are not urban terrorists going from place to place trying to save trees. Let’s put things into perspective here! There is a campaign to save the trees in Sefton Park and if you are referring to the Festival Garden Site at Otterspool there are also people actively campaigning for that. We support the activities of both campaigns. But every situation is different and needs to be taken on it’s merit. The situation at Harthill is totally different from any of these campaigns and to compare the two is like taking a simplified view of conservation. We are living in a growing and dynamically changing city and changes are happening all the time and the city council must make decisions based upon many factors. I, unlike you, trust this city council to do the right thing; they are made up of people just as you described the committee to be at Harthill. They are on the whole people with integrity and true belief in this city, that’s why we elect them. If you are so cynical to believe that these people are trying to destroy things in this city then why don’t you join a political party and make a difference- you could always join the “Green Party” 🙂

  38. lamby says:

    Mark I have to ask you, yet again, not to suggest that I and my family leave the site as you must respect our views, as I respect yours. I was hoping that you would withdraw this comment, but instead you reinforced it. Please comment on this.
    I do not have a personal vendetta against the Committee (a contradiction in terms). One member of the Committee is a good friend and as such I totally respect his privacy (as he does mine) by not talking about Harthill beyond runner beans and potatoes.
    In a similar vein we have never approached anyone on this site regarding this issue, apart from politely asking for signatures to petition the Committee to give a time of a General Meeting- an absurd task! There are two reasons for this, the first is out of total respect for the right of any allotment holder, whatever their views to enjoy peace and quiet and secondly to avoid accusations of intimidation.
    It is in this light that I have to respond to your statement to Phillip ‘I personally have been shouted at by your group’.
    I was present when this happened, and It was you who came on to the site, approached our group, notepad and pen in hand, demanding to know ‘who put up the illegal batboxes’ and when did they go up?’ You were shouting loudly (as I believe you have been shouting to me ‘on line’), we all shouted, your biased accusations mean we have to waste valuable forum space in replying to set the record straight . Please can we get to the real issues and try to establish some common ground?

  39. The Green Godess says:

    I have read all comments with great interest. Perhaps the depot site could provide additional plots? perhaps the “superb” committee is merely a group of middle class bullies? I have been led to believe that one of the committee has allegedly threatened council officers, councillors and a radio producer who dared to allow the Tiny woodlnds people on her show!
    I am not surprised at the way this issue has developed, their are a number of small minded individuals still running allotment committees but having raised issues from my own site with the Cllr responsible I see a new “green” approach and I suspect she will take ” no nonsense”. As to trees in Sefton Park ( close to where I live) this is just a load of hysteria being whipped up by a few luddites who do not want to see any changes in the park, a number of these trees would stop the restoration of the origional water courses, but I suppose the council could always send the heritage lottery money back!!!

  40. Philip says:

    SUE: In life you should NEVER assume anything! My partner and I disagree on a lot of things. The analogy of being ‘thrown off the plot’ was a hypothetical one and taken to its logical conclusion – could happen! Whether it would or not is irrelevant. The principle still remains. My personal rights have been eroded and that’s something I am NOT happy with. When individual plot holders are coming up to me saying “what the hell has this got to do with you!” and “You’ve got NO say, you’re not even a plot holder” Well listen to this- I’ve been on that site for over 12 years. I DO have a say and I WILL be heard. Nobody, but nobody will take away my rights and I will fight anybody who cares to try!

    On a more serious note, Yes, I do like a bit of Frankie now and again! I also like Dalek I Love You, Pink Military, China Crisis, Sparks, Bill Nelson, Harold Budd, Brian Eno, Yello, Fila Brazillia, The Fall etc, etc. On the Ipod at the moment I’m listening to Gilian Welch, Johnny Cash, Leon Fleisher, Kathryn Selby and The Queensland Symphony Orchestra. As you can see I have a wide range of musical interests. I think it healthy to remain OPEN MINDED about these things don’tcha think? Some people just can’t see the wood for the trees 😉

    Can’t be bothered responding to your other points >*J*

  41. Catherine says:

    I would like to respond to some of the issues raised:

    The shade issue is an over exaggeration and doesn’t mean that we have to destroy an established woodland to solve the perceived problem. The woodland is made up of not only sycamore but beech, ash, silver birch, oak and willow, all at different levels of maturity. The trees may cast a bit of shade at the end of spring but does not prevent people from growing perfectly good crops. As we come into summer the sun is much higher in the sky. In winter the foliage has died back, so no shade issue there and plots can be utilised all year round by growing over wintering crops. A possible option is that they could be thinned out and topped as they grow bigger. Saying that these trees cast shade is not an excuse to get rid of them. I too would have no problem with an independent shade survey carried out by an appropriate body, as I feel it wouldn’t affect the issue in the slightest.

    To come back to a point raised earlier that the allotment committee/ association should decide on the clearing of land such as this on their own site; the land does happen to belong to Liverpool City Council and the clearing of land this size would be decided upon by the council. The woodland at Harthill amounts to five cubic metres or more of wood, which would require a felling licence from the forestry commission. The adjacent area (over twice the size) to the woodland we are currently discussing was felled in May 2003 on the request of the committee, in the middle of the nesting season, without a felling licence and without complying with the moratorium that exists on Merseyside on felling trees between 1st March and 31st August. This complies with the Countryside and Wildlife Act 1981 which states that it is illegal to disturb nesting birds!
    We are not a group of allotment holders in a minority who as it was suggested “wanting to do what we like”, we are a group of people who can see the value of an established woodland, it seems the committee are in the minority; we have the support from the city council, councillors, Merseyside Biodiversity Partnership, Local Conservation Officer, Local RSPB Group, Lancashire Wildlife Trust and even members of the public. Not forgetting allotment holders at Harthill who are too afraid to speak out or simply just want a quiet life. It is Harthill Allotment Committee who somehow have delusions of grandeur in believing that they are in the majority.
    There are no alleged vendettas against the committee or anyone else for that matter, this is not a personality contest or a point scoring exercise; this is about conserving and protecting our wildlife!
    To tell us as allotment holders to go elsewhere if we are not happy, just sums up the attitude at Harthill, in other words “if you don’t like how it’s run then get out!”
    To participate in an honest and open debate don’t just argue selectively look at the entirety of the issues being raised.

  42. Nikki says:

    As a regular and long-standing visitor to Calderstones Park (and a keen organic vegetable grower/previous allotment holder!) I am extremely interested in the on-going debate concerning Harthill Copse. Long before I was aware of the issues relating to the proposed felling of these trees (covering only 3 allotment plots, I believe) and, thankfully, Liverpool City Council’s decision to save the area, I took my 8 year old son on a visit to the park as part of his Cub Scout Naturalist badge. We spent a wonderful afternoon looking for various examples of flora and fauna but my son, who is also a keen junior member of the RSPB, was disappointed at the lack of variety in bird species around the park. At his suggestion, we walked to ‘the Copse’, an area we often pass when walking our dog. Within 30 minutes we were mesmerised as scores of birds flew into the trees, onto the feeders and through the area. We counted 12 different species using this tiny area, including rarer varieties such as Yellow Hammers. The majority of these birds cannot be seen elsewhere in the park. Calderstones is, predominantly, open areas of grass. Yes, as Sue mentioned, there are small woodland paths along the perimeter, but these are close to busy and noisy roads. Harthill Copse provides the quiet, sheltered space that many of these less prevalent species require for feeding and nesting. The fact that I have since seen birds raising young in the boxes provided here proves this. With regard to the trees being ‘weeds’ (I disagree, but moving on…), the Copse is so much more than just a group of trees. Look into the undergrowth and you will see a host of other plants and animals flourishing and benefiting from this environment. The beautiful and informative stickers that were posted on the fence near the Copse to celebrate National Allotment Week highlighted this; hedgehogs, foxes, countless wildflower species etc. all visiting and thriving in this area. I would certainly agree with Philip that land use is not a static thing – it is constantly changing and opinions need to move forward and change to reflect this fact. When my family had our allotment 3 years ago at Pitville Road, South Liverpool, we had the pick of around 7 plots/half plots that were overgrown on this site. Last year we decided to use containers and window boxes at home to grow our vegetables as opposed to the allotment. As much as we had enjoyed our couple of years there, we realised that allotment gardening is a huge commitment and very difficult to continue successfully when employed full time and with two young children! Like many, our concerns for how the food we buy is grown, the use of pesticides etc. were major factors in why we wanted to have an allotment. The current trend in the last couple of years, spurred on by the media, is all for allotment gardening. It has become the trendy thing to ‘have’. Whilst I’m all for encouraging awareness of issues relating to our impact on the planet, including organic fruit and vegetable gardening, I’m very aware that, as with all trends, when the fad wears off (and people realise there is a good deal of time and hard work involved in allotment gardening!)these plots will once more become overgrown (as they were 3 years ago) and waiting lists will dwindle. Our home grown harvest this year, so far, has included potatoes (grown in a bin!), peas (from a single plant grown by my daughter at Nursery!), red onions, beans, carrots, salad, spring onions, beetroot, radish, strawberries and lots of herbs- with garlic and sweetcorn to come. All in pots and a tiny area of our ‘postage stamp’ of a garden behind our terraced house. So, interested parties CAN grow their own without an allotment! For those who are desperate for an allotment, I understand that a short bus/bike ride away there are plots available at a number of allotments in the North end of Liverpool…Getting back to the issue surrounding Harthill Copse, I understand this is council land, so their decision stands, surely? This area has so much to offer, long-term. Is it worth losing this beneficial biodiversity for 3 potential allotment gardeners’ gain in fruit and veg, when they can grow their own at home in pots?!..I truly believe not. Think globally, act locally!As a mum and a primary school teacher I would love to see this area managed well and developed for the benefit of all – allotment holders (guess where the blue tits got their juicy caterpillars from!) and the wider community.

  43. Carol says:

    I’ve been reading this with interest and don’t actually want to get into the debate I would just like to post some facts:

    The meeting that has been said to be undemocratic was in my eyes perfectly OK. The date of the meeting was circulated at the beginning of January and was posted as being after the plot clearance of Plot 1 which was overgrown and had a lot of tarmac dumped on it. This was decided by all members present at the AGM so the secretary was only following what was decided there. It was a ploy to try to get people to help out with clearing the plot. Clearly it didn’t work with all that many people but there were quite a few volunteers of which I was one of them.

    On consulting a solicitor (one of the allotment members) it was decided to set a time for the meeting. This was set 10 days before the meeting and was displyed outside the communal hut. This is more than enough time for people to see the notice and if they happened not to be going down to the allotment in that time and wished to attend all members have the secretary’s phone number which they could have phoned to find out the exact time. Prior to the 10 days before the meeting she had repeated to members that the meeting would be after the clearance, this was simply due to the decision at the AGM.

    At the meeting there were approximately 25 people. It has been said that the committee bullied one member of the meeting. This is not true. One member was told that she would be unable to vote due to not having paid her rent. Although this was a mistake (she still had 3 days to pay the rent before she would have been illegible) she was not at any point asked to leave the meeting and was given the opportunity to have her say. What all of you who are saying it was bullying aren’t aware of I believe is that the Chairman did not vote either due to the fact that he also hadn’t paid his rent.

    The vote was: 15 for partial clearance, 3 for full clearance and although they didn’t actually vote in the end would have been 4 for no clearance. Even if the voting process had been 2 votes per plot these numbers would simply have been doubled. The percentages would have been exactly the same.

    The issue with people telling you that it this issue has nothing to do with you Phillip has been resolved now. You are a much more active member of the allotments. I do not think I had ever seen you with a spade in your hand prior to our ‘conversation’ at the allotments however, I have now seen you with one a few times and assuming you are going to continue tending to the plot with Catherine then there will not be an issue. My plot is in joint tenancy but even if it wasn’t if anything was to happen to me my partner would automatically be asked if he wished to keep the plot as he does work on the plot and also around the site mowing the lawns, burning peoples uncompostable waste etc. As long as you are seen to be tending to your plot then your position will remain. Prior to the meeting in January I had never seen you before as hadn’t many of the people at the meeting and therefore for someone who they had never seen to get to speak for so long during the meeting was quite intimidating.

    In reply to Catherine’s comment about a felling licence being required. Allotment land is part of the classification of Open Space and as such is exempt from needing a felling licence.

    Just because there are a large group of people wishing to fell these trees to make further plots does not make them environmentally unaware. Are you forgetting the introduction of the entire hedgerow around the plot over a number of years – a hedgerow which is ideal for the wildlife that we are trying to attract. And what you probably also don’t know is that the secretary swaps sapplings with mersey forest to do this. A commendable act don’t you think?

    Something else that was highlighted at the January meeting was that the some of the sites that have introduced wildlife areas have done so on land that could not be let due to flooding, shade etc. This area is perfect for allotments and there are many other areas of the site that would be better suited to a permanent wildlife area. If you were to target your efforts on one or more of those areas then I for one and I know others would be right behind you.

    The report from Dr Richard Burkmar was written simply about 2 plots on a large allotment site. I would be interested in a biodiversity report that encompassed the entire site and did a comparison between having the trees and not having them and see what the overall outcome of that is. I suspect in the scheme of things it will be very little.

    The bat boxes were erected on Plot 17 before Councillor Turner had issued a letter to the committee stating that the trees were not to be touched. If you had other information then this should not have been acted upon until the committee had full notification. In addition the committee manage the site and therefore permission should have been sought from them to erect the bat boxes. I agree with Helen’s comments regarding these boxes. They should be removed from the area asap to stop any problems further down the line with regard to statutory status of the site.

  44. lamby says:

    Thanks for the lovely posting Nikki. The nut feeders and wildlife information stickers celebrate the true spirit of National Allotment Week in promoting both biodiversity and community use. As a teacher myself I have gained real pleasure in watching children and their parents read the information stickers and spot what they can see. The prospect of a permanent public viewing wall of woodland birds is something that we can all try and achieve together. The initial soundings from Liverpool City Council are positive, and who knows this could even form part of the Capital of Culture celebrations! I really wanted to discuss this and other potential uses of the woodlands, but I’m afraid for now I must respond to Carol’s posting.

    The allotment world out there must be gasping in astonishment that an Allotment Committee refuses on three occasions to give members a time of a General Meeting and then consults a solicitor, one assumes, to back them up.

    Was it a great surprise when he suggested it just might be a good idea to give people the time of a General Meeting and therefore the time of a vote on the future of the trees?

    You state that ten days is ‘more than enough time for people to see the notice’ on the communal hut about a meeting. I’m sorry but I live 100 yards from the site and in January I have often left it for many weeks before I visit the ‘icey vasta’ that is Harthill Allotments. Indeed we all know that some plot holders throw down tarpaulin and go into some ritualistic hibernation only to emerge sleepily eyed in Spring to say ‘vote, what vote?’
    Hibernating allotmenteers are quiet, shy, retiring creatures. I include myself in this,
    but to my folly I did exactly as you suggested and phoned the Secretary asking for the time of the vote. The following extract is cut and pasted from what I typed half an hour after this phone call.

    ‘At 6.30 p.m on Friday 12th January I telephoned the Allotment Secretary and asked her for the time of the meeting, her reply was ‘after the group effort to clear plot 1’. I asked when this was likely to be, she replied ‘it depends on how many people turn up’. When I asked her when the work would start she replied ‘I don’t know’.

    I pointed out that this was not giving people against felling the trees a fair opportunity to air their views (as agreed in the General Meeting of April 2003).

    If, for example, I suggested they turned up at 1pm they could have either missed the meeting entirely or potentially spend hours standing around waiting for the plot clearing to finish. The Secretary replied that ‘if these people help clear the plot then this will not be a problem’.

    I then suggested a time of 2.00 p.m. At this point I was interrupted and told to ‘hold it right there’ ‘You are not allowed to hold a meeting’ ‘I am having my tea, you are interfering with my life’ and promptly held up’.

    Mmmmm yes, perfectly democratic there.

    I will now take a short break before I talk about the meeting on the 27th of January.

  45. lamby says:

    oops prompty ‘hung up’

  46. lamby says:

    My phone call (asking for a time of a vote) was of course made before your solicitor suggested that it might just be a good idea to give a time of a General Meeting. Hibernating and any other allotmenteers, of course did not know this and probably decided not to phone up for fear of ‘The Wrath’ as outlined above(Star Trek 2 again!).

    The constitution clearly state that 30 days notice must be given in writing to every plot holder prior to a General Meeting.

  47. Carol says:

    The solicitor was consulted to see what the correct procedure should be. He advised to set a time. You were rude and also as I am led to believe stated that you don’t do volunteer work – as you have shown by not helping out with anything else around the allotments such as mowing the grass.

    Everyone was given the date of the meeting 30 days in advance. The secretary on the 12th January was following the decision made at the AGM as I have said and you clearly wouldn’t listen to that. Yes, you were instrumental in getting a time for the meeting but you could have turned up to help with the plot clearance and then you wouldn’t have been worried about a time.

    Following the advise from the solicitor the time of the meeting was displayed at the allotments. Many people made the decision to phone the secretary for this time instead of going to allotments to find out. It is not a hard thing to do. I (unlike you clearly) do not know the constitution word for word but I thought it was 7 days and I’m fairly sure you have told me that in the past.

  48. Ann says:

    Carol – “As long as you are seen tending to your plot then your position will remain”. My own contribution to our plot has been considerably less over the last 2 years due to our 17 month old twins.

    Despite this, I have maintained an active interest in our plot by planning our vegetable planting, ordering seed and occasionally visiting the plot (when time allows) to plant and weed.

    Unfortunately I feel I have now been downgraded as I have not been seen by the ‘right people’ such as yourself.

    To paraphrase George Orwell “All are equal, but some are more equal than others.”

  49. The Green Godess says:

    I am really astonished that so called intelligent people are behaving like small children. All I see here are a group of big bullies who because they haven’t got their own way are determined to make everyone elses lives a misery. Did Harthill win any of the prizes in the council’s annual competiton? No? Surprise Suprise!!
    The council have sad “No” to felling – it’s their land not yours, and if you check your agreement you will see that they can take the management of the site away from the committee. If my committee was behaving the way some of you are it would seem to me to be the only sensible way forward. For goodness sake get on with your sad little lives Carol, Mark, Gareth and the rest of the nimbies, enjoy your plots and GROW UP!

  50. Philip says:

    CAROL: As I’m currently working away I haven’t got time to deal with your childish comments suffice to say that every village needs an idiot. 🙂

    NIKKI: Wow! What a brilliant entry and at last a “park user” who hasn’t got an axe to grind. SOOOOO refreshing to hear positive comments from an ‘ordinary’ member of the public. Certain Harthill allotment holders use to be members of the public until they entered the realms of a ‘cult’ 🙂

  51. The Green Godess says:

    Well said Phillip,sadly for you and the “normal” folk at Harthill you seem to have more than one village idiot!

  52. sue says:

    Deliberate derogatory statements are doing nothing to help with this debate.

  53. John says:

    Thank you Sue –

    I don’t want to be ‘heavy’ but if you can’t discuss things without resorting to personal insults I’ll close the comments down on this.

    If you were on the main forums the mods would be discussing with some of you!!

    You know it is possible that the person holding opposite views to you is actually very nice and you agree on a lot of other things.

  54. Catherine says:

    Can some of us remember that this an open and honest debate in which you have been invited to participate on the issues for discussion ie: WILDLIFE verses CULTIVATION, this is stated clearly at the top of the page.

    Can I request a full and detailed explanation why Philip or Ann have to report to you Carol every time they attend their plots at Harthill?! You seem to be the elected spokesperson for the committee, but you are not actually an elected committee member yourself.

    Myself and Philip have been long term plot holders at Harthill for 12 years; you and indeed anybody else at Harthill do not have the right to pass judgement on whether a person picks up a spade or not. We rent that land from Liverpool City Council and if we wish to go down and “contemplate our navel” we shall and nobody will tell us otherwise. Do not elevate your status above that of an ordinary plot holder which you are. Your self righteous behaviour is truly shameful and any casual visitor to this forum will have already made their own minds up. You crucify yourself with your own words! For someone who has stated that they do not wish to get into this debate Carol, you have already had an awful lot to say!?

    With regards to cutting grass or clearing land on behalf of the committee, an allotment holder has a choice to do as little or as much as she or he wishes. Are you seriously telling me that to get kudos or to be accepted as part of the clique that we must all jump to the whim of the committee? I think not! Can you seriously believe that we would support a committee that made a fateful decision in 2003 to cut down trees in the middle of the nesting season without adequate consultation or warning? If you wan t to see the heart of a tree look into its roots!

    You are right Green Goddess; these people really do need to “get a grip!!”

    On a more important note, thank you Nikki for responding and for having the foresight to see why the woodland at Harthill is a valuable wildlife haven. I agree with your comments- allotment gardening has become fashionable spurred on by the media, but fashions are continually changing just as the desire for allotments will, change and fashions and trends tend to go in full circle.

  55. Philip says:

    Sorry John, it must be all them atomic vitimins I’ve been taking. I promise NOT to do it again 😉

  56. Mel says:

    I don’t want to engage in the disagreements between individual posters above, can there really be such strong feelings? Equally it is not my business we would love to have waiting lists on our plot.

    If however this thread is about wildlife vs cultivation on allotments then surely the legislation surrounding allotments carries some weight does it not. Allotments according to the legislation surrounding their provision are for the cultivation mainly of vegitables and fruit (not verbatim quote from the Allotment Act). Should not the council be acting in furtherance of the legislation?

    Why could not the use of the plots in question be returned to cultivation and use the others parts of the site that are not suitable for cultivation in the promotion of wildlife? Could not both sides of the debate have their own way in this way?

    Have those unhappy with the committee tried doing something about it by standing themselves?

  57. lamby says:

    Carol, I refer to my earlier comments regarding total respect for other plot holders, and far from being rude I totally adhered to this in what was a rather surreal phone conversation with the Secretary. You have been mislead, I actually stated that ‘I should not have to do voluntary work in order to get free access to a vote’. The fact that despite talking to the person involved you do not question what was said to me is quite telling. In our one and only conversation, I have never mentioned seven days notice for a General Meeting. I trust this sets the record straight.

    Regarding the meeting of the 27th January I believe that following the Committee’s failure to apologise to the lady as requested, she has made a formal complaint to Liverpool City Council.

    The only point I will add is that the Chairman did indeed put his hand up and vote at the meeting (for the felling of trees) and this was accepted and counted at the time without question. The pre-emptive announcement that his vote has now been retrospectively cancelled, will I am sure also be looked at by the Council.

    I agree with Catherine that the main focus of the debate is between biodiversity and cultivation and now wish to return to this. I would also like to thank John for continuing to run with this discussion, as I remain eternally optimistic that it will eventually build bridges within the allotment community at Harthill.

    The current Government has laid down guidelines about Biodiversity, to be implemented at Local Authority level. Liverpool City Council owns land throughout the city and to effectively implement any Biodiversity Action Plan, must exercise control over its own land. The Harthill Site is in the ownership of the Council and has been identified by the Liverpool Open Space Study as being one of only two sites out of twenty-three in the city as being ‘ecologically significant’. Given that Harthill is the fourth smallest site in the city this makes its designation even more remarkable. There are two main reasons for this identified in the report. The first is its position on the Allerton Green wedge allowing many animal and plant species their last chance to penetrate into the urban area. Secondly the relative ‘lack of management’ of the site in the last 30 or so years had allowed uncultivated plots to develop into particularly valuable wildlife areas. The report as mentioned earlier recommends the retention of these overgrown plots. Further wildlife reports contained on the Tinywoodlands website confirm the value of the site and are freely available.

    The woodland we are talking about is a case in point. It has developed into an ecosystem providing a rich variety of habitats. On the ground is s a field layer of nettles and wildflowers providing valuable habitat for insects. A shrub layer of brambles provides both cover and food for a wide variety of birds and mammals. Near the footpath are many saplings utilised by blue tits and other small birds such as the goldcrest. The semi-mature stand of sycamore trees provides perching points for a variety of birds as they use the copse as a ‘stepping stone’ onto other parts of the site. It has been studied in detail to be a valuable ecological site and all sides should accept that rather than ask for yet more studies.

    The whole allotment ethos is now changing, and Government recommendations specifically promote the multi use of such sites to include amongst others both biodiversity and community use. These sites are no longer seen as the preserve of a select few growing crops with little contact with the public outside. Indeed in some areas, the multiuse of allotment sites has been a major factor in their retention against developers.

    Every year the Magazine ‘Kitchen Garden’ and The National Allotment Gardens Trust holds its national allotment awards, there are only three categories, of which ‘Best Community project’ is one of them. Here the judges are looking for projects which serve the interests of the community as well as the allotment holders around them.

    In introducing this category the magazine writes
    ‘Perhaps your plots have set aside an area for wildlife and encouraged the local population and come along and enjoy the delights of your wildlife pond or sanctuary. If your plots run schemes then you may well have a chance of winning this category.

    Last year the winner was Ipswich allotments in Suffolk, here are a few selected quotes about how they won this category.

    ‘A wildlife project was set up to act as a resource for the plot holders and local children and as a home for a rich variety of wildlife which was already thriving there. On all counts the project has been a resounding success, which is why it was chosen by the judges as the winner this year.’

    ‘There is a wonderful feeling of community on the site and this is evident in the way the plot holders pull together’

    ‘The whole project has taken around two years to complete and was funded with money raised on site via a highly successful open day and by grants from the County Council.’

    ‘Jean the Field Warden masterminds much of the wildlife part and this expands over to the community side with platy equipment for all the young families on the site.’

    As I have said before we have an opportunity to create the best public bird hide in Liverpool, simply by putting up nutfeeders, birdbaths and letting people stare through a modified length of metal fence! This facility would be available all day, 365 days a year without even a member of the public coming on site. The location just off the main path into Calderstones Park is very accessible by all people irrespective of age or ability. Dr Richard Burkmar has already offered to help us get grants from the Breathing Places Scheme and I am sure the Council through their ranger service would also be supportive. The wildlife area could also incorporate seating and play areas for all plot holders. Is this really such a selfish act worthy of the words circulated earlier in this discussion?

    Myself and others have taken twenty sackfulls of rubbish from the woodland and disposed of it, we have erected bird boxes, not just in the woodland but also around other parts of the site. This partially answers the orchestrated chorus of suggestions that we are not interested in the potential of other wildlife sites at Harthill. We have celebrated National Allotment Week by placing 50 wildlife stickers on the perimeter fence and keeping bird feeding stations and birdbaths stocked for the last nine months. This has had a fantastic response from the public as so eloquently expressed by Nikki. We have liased with local schools, in producing artwork and beautiful poetry. I,d like to think there is more to life than ‘mowing the grass’.

    And now the politics of the situation, because I know John opened the debate up and said it is also about how sites are managed. It seems strange that an Allotment Committee can offer one plot as a ‘compromise’, so changing its land use from an allotment plot to nature area. However, when the local authority steps in and says that (due to the wildlife value of the site) it wishes to do the same with the two adjacent plots …… World War Three breaks out! Are we saying that Allotment Associations can change land use as, they like with no redress to anyone, while a local council is challenged to fight it through the courts?

    In the debate so far we have heard from only two plot holders who one can assume are talking on behalf of a seven person committee. The view is so entrenched that this woodland now represents an illegal landuse due to it simply being allowed to keep on growing. Similarly any attempt to put up posters, tree tags, notices promoting the biodiversity of the woodland is also seen as an illegal act and fair game to be taken down.

    The Committee as a result is now been accused of bullying its own members, allegedly bullying council officials, councillors and even the local radio station!
    The ethos of having an allotment needs to be brought back to Harthill, and through no fault of its own the Council will have to deal with the situation.

  58. The Green Godess says:

    Lamby and Catherine
    As always wise words, this “Carol” if she is not a member of the committee should not be dictating to plot holders, mind you neither should the committee. They clearly have over stepped the boundaries and it would seem to me that the council should take back day to day management of the site until peace breaks out!

  59. Carol says:

    I have not and am not speaking for the committee. I have simply stated a few facts on the legalities of the situation and corrected some of the inaccuracies that others have stated in the forum. I have submitted a personal complaint to the council regarding the handling of this situation and the lack of visibility with regard the decision making process. I have also highlighted the legalities of statutory land to them and asked them to reconsider their decisions. This is undergoing independent review along with complaints from other people and until this process is complete we should not be trying to do anything on Plots 16-18 to enhance wildlife or otherwise. Everything, I believe should remain as it was 1 year ago.

    With regard the comment about whether Phillip should be able to take on the plot if something were to happen to Catherine, it was simply pointing out that this whole mess has encouraged people who didn’t spend very much time working on the plots do so more than before and there would never be a question as to whether he would be allowed to keep it (now or before). Apologies Anne and anyone else this may have offended, it wasn’t meant as the written word often sounds and I completely understand that many people have background roles in the running of an allotment plot.

    John, I have read the constitution – Section 11 states that 7 days notice has to be given for a general meeting. A great deal more than this was given regarding the date of the meeting so you can not argue about this. You were right to ask for a time of the meeting and this was acheived 10 days before the meeting. It was perfectly constitutional.

    With regard to the actually topic of this debate – you have raised a lot of interesting points but you have dismissed my comment regarding a biodiversity report that covers the entire Harthill site. I believe that the report commissioned was biassed. It does not discuss what having plots there would do in terms of what would be lost and what would be gained. It simply focuses on what is there now.

    Catherine – was it not the council that had the ultimate decision back in 2003 to cut down the trees? It should have been and therefore was it not them who decided to cut them down in the nesting season? Has anyone been taken to court over this act? I suspect not although they probably should have been.

    Somewhere in this debate there was a statement that 5% of allotment sites should be kept for wildlife. On Harthill at present there is over 12% of the site wild, i.e. not cultivated. The are in question is ~5% of the site and therefore more than 7% would be left if we were to fell these trees. It was also mentioned that ~£3000 would be required to fell the trees. This debate has never been about money however, to keep the trees will probably cost that much as well in terms of properly spacing the trees so that they don’t start becoming unstable. There are already 3 or 4 that are dead and more will become so if nothing at all was to be done.

  60. lamby says:

    Carol, I am happy to set the record straight but the amount of days does not alter the legitimacy of my argument. The Constitition states that ‘at least seven days in writing of every General Meeting stating the business to be transacted at each meeting, shall be sent to every member at his or her address’. I requested the the time of the meeting to be sent to every address within the seven days, this request was not granted and the meeting was therefore unconstitutional.

  61. Carol says:

    It doesn’t state that the time and date of the meeting has to be sent – just notification of the meeting and the reason for it. This was done and therefore I do not agree that it was unconstitutional for that reason. There was a very good turn out for the meeting, approximately half of the plot holders were there and others sent their apologies due to holidays/work commitments. All of these people managed to get to the meeting therefore the time and date must have been publicised well enough.

  62. Carol says:

    Something I forgot to reply to before – the chairman was the one counting the votes and as such was not included in the 15 for partial clearance. A list of the people who voted has since been compiled and his name was not on it. I don’t even know which way he would have voted.

  63. Helen says:

    All of the information posted by lamby is very interesting and has a lot of merit however you are still ignoring the legal issues of this matter (as are Liverpool City Council by the sounds of it) that this land is classified as Statutory Allotment Land which is supposed to be used for the cultivation of Fruit and Vegetables.

    Whilst there is a very small/non existant waiting list the turnover of people on the allotment site is sufficient to warrant not felling these trees but now you have a large waiting list (which I imagine is only going to get longer as allotments grow once more in popularity) everything should be done to return the land to its original use – that of cultivation.

  64. Mel says:

    If its a statutory allotment (is it by the way?) then it is designated mostly for the growing of fuit and vegitables (1922 Allotment Act). If the council want to change the use of such land from an allotment then they have to apply for a change of usage to the secretary of state (follwing the procedures referred to above by Helen). Further if there is a demand for allotments (as the waiting lists referred to above seem to suggest) then the council have a duty to provide them (Small Holding and Allotments Act 1908).

    What makes these specific pieces of land so importance to the furtherance of wildlife issues and government guidance (legally insignificant) when in refusing to clear the plots the council are disreguarding primary legislation (legally most important). In other areas of council activity where the council act as landlords they have performance indicators for ensuring that tenancies are not void (i.e. un lettable).

    I’m no wildlife expert (I am a planning student doing post graduate research involving allotments in urban life) and maybe this explains why it is so hard for me to understand the indignation.

  65. lamby says:

    Glad to welcome you to the debate Mel. As a ‘planning student doing post graduate research in allotments in urban life’ I would like your expert analysis of a role play that I hope with your expert knowledge can help clarify the situation.

    The Rigby Memorial Allotment is a small site of some 47 plots in a suburb of a major northern city. The site has some really lovely people, who get on really well with each other. The site has a really popular secretary whose passion is nature conservation.

    On three plots there is a small woodland, and due to her persuasive nature and popularity amongst plotholders, The Secretary wins a vote by a large majority to create a nature reserve, with bird hide and bat boxes.
    Then one evening she gets a letter saying that if she wants to change the use of such land from an allotment then they have to apply for a change of usage to the secretary of state. She is also warned that the bat boxes she has erected could result in her facing criminal charges. Discuss.

  66. lamby says:


  67. Helen says:

    Mel, Thankyou for your educated response to this debate. I wish you well with your research and if there is anything that we can help you with then please ask.
    Liverpool City Council have confirmed to the secretary of the committee that the site is indeed a statutory site (as are majority if not all of the allotment sites in Liverpool)

  68. Mel says:

    As I said in my original post I don’t want to get involved in the personal stuff between posters. No offence taken on my part lamby (though I’m certainly no expert and my research involves allotments in urban life. My understanding is theoretical and accademic rather than applied)

    I am however intersted in what is so unique about these pieces of land that makes people feel that the councils primary legislation responsibilities should be over ridden – maybe the allotments are not statutory or there is a protected spiecies (there very well could be now I suppose if tinywoodlands are accurate) Can anyone help?

  69. Carol says:

    Mel, the allotments are definitely statutory and that is one reason why myself and so many others can not understand why we are even arguing about this.

    As far as everyone is aware there are no protected species living in the area. Bats have been present on Harthill Allotments for years in the early evening just before dusk but there are no bats living in the boxes as yet thankfully. This is one reason why as above we have asked that they should be removed but LCC refuse to comment on them. They have been asked if we can relocate them with the help of a local bat group who have offered their services and advise was given to leave them alone for now. Since then multiple requests have been made to remove them and each time we have had no response. If it came to it and bats did move into the boxes then at least we could get rid of all the trees except the one that they are positioned on.

  70. Mel says:

    Thanks Carol and Helen, this makes the matter all the more puzzling. However, and with respect Carol, your colours have been well and truly nailed to the mast in this thread.

    I’d be curious to learn what the no clearance lobby and or the council have to add about what makes these pieces of land so unique as to over ride primary legislative duties. Philip, Catherine, Lamby, Green Goddess what is your response to my queery?

    I sense a case study coming on, I’m off to research this in the council web site.

  71. The Green Goddess says:

    I am sure the officers of the city council are more than aware of their responsibilites Mel. They don’t need a “smart alec” friend of the clearance lobby to advise them I’m sure! This whole business is damaging all our sites’ relationships with the City Council . The committee at Harthill are becoming a byword for intransigence and narrowmindness across all of the cities sites. As I have said before it seems to me that the only sensible way forward is for the council to take back day to day management until this issue and the any others are resolved?
    I also think this discussion is being manipulated by friends of the site secretary and her cronies which is unhelpful and unhealthy. It’s certainly not an honest and open debate wouldn’t you agree? As for you Lamby don’t withdraw or the bullies that have obviously really got to you will win.
    I don’t intend to post further as I do not see this discussion leading to achieving any meaningful peaceful conclusion.
    If anyone out there thinks this is how all plot holders behave then pls don’t despair
    we aren’t all budding dictators!

  72. Mel says:

    Green Goddess. If you don’t mind I’ll stick to the issues in the debate and not get involved in calling names and derailing the debate.

    If you know why the council made their decision in the light of the legislative duties identified above then that would be a helpful contribution to the debate. There is nothing on the council web site about the matter and all I can learn from the tiny woodlands site is that a chap was invited to discuss the conservation of the trees and he reccomends saving the trees (hardly surprising or indeed objective).

    Having done allotment key word searches in a range of council documents my puzzlement is increased – the council don’t have enough plots, needing to develop nearly 1000 plots (Open Space Study paras 9.69 – 9.64, 12.50) in the context of ‘significant latent demand for allotments hidden by lack of availability …. substantial and longstanding waiting lists in in the south of the city (para 12.52). (Is this plot in the south of the city, a post code would be helpful – does it feature on Google Earth?) Further the council are committed to providing allotments where there is a local need as laid out in the UDP. Equally the UDP discussed development of wildlife sites.

    What is it that I am missing?

  73. Carol says:

    Mel, the site is in the south of the city postcode of the nearby school is L18 6HS and Beechley Stables next door is L18 6HU. I have no idea if the site itself has it’s own postcode but hopefully you will be able to find it from that. I also have no idea whether it features on google earth but i have recently seen a picture of the local area from an ordanance survey site. Sorry don’t know which one as it was just a print out.

    Green Godess – you need to keep to the facts and that is that Mel has quite clearly stated that he/she is going to use this as a case study for is post graduate degree. It is a fabulous topic for a case study – looking at the points of why the council have sided with a very small minority and most of all completely ‘disregarding primary legislation’ – Mel’s words not mine! He/she is not a friend of anyone at Harthill Allotments as far as I know and has indicated that they have a plot elsewhere – this might not even be in Liverpool.

  74. Helen says:

    OK, here is a situation for you to consider:

    The trees at Harthill don’t get felled and in a few years time due to the popularity of allotments dwindling again (which I have to say I don’t see happening for quite some time to come with the present climate) a few more plots become overgrown. The cycle turns again and these plots are required and a committee holds a meeting to clear the plots and is told that wildlife has developed on those plots now, you can’t clear them, it would destroy the wildlife that is living there. The plots are once again saved from clearance and the cycle goes on. Eventually you get very few plots and a large expanse of wooded area, over hanging and shading the few plots that are left.

    This can’t be allowed to happen and the only way in which it has a fighting chance is by felling these trees now and opening up the land for it’s original use. There will of course be a few people that will be upset by it, this is natural but eventually they’ll get over it (I suspect park users and anyone not directly connected to the allotments will get over it incredibly quickly).

    Councillor Turner spoke of her vision for allotments – does this include having 2-3 plots on every allotment site dedicated to wildlife – I do hope not. there is clearly a way to encourage wildlife on this site without having to keep these plots. Wildlife areas should be situated on land that impossible to let due to flooding, too much shading etc etc. not on land that is perfectly good for cultivation.

  75. JohnG says:

    I have been watching this sight in interest.

    Both sides have an argument but the law is there to protect allotment land for the use of cultivation. Have both sides looked into lobbying the council into developping other areas, Mark mentioned a depot site before he left the debate ( I guess to prevent him saying something he regretted (two people have now left due to this)) . How big is this site. Who does it belong to and would this satisfy both groups.

    I am a little bit disheartened by fellow greenies not being able to accept each others points of view. The majority of people who are adding to this sight are obviously not impartial and know one group of the other.

    As passion is the main agument to both then surely allotment law should decide and I will continue to read the apparent very learned Mel (thank you for input)

    Greengoddess you seem to know that the Council is aware of there responsibilities is this personal discussion. Are the Local Council not bound by the Allotment Law’s ?.

  76. The Green Goddess says:

    I said I wouldn’t return but I can’t not , in view of the drivel above. There are many urban sites that could become allotments, and I understand the council are looking at locations in many heavily populated areas in order to develop sites for veg and fruit cultivation. Not unlike those in Brooklyn etc. Where did Councillor Turner speak of her vision ? I have not seen anything on this site?
    As for people siding with a small minority ( note both these words mean the same thing sweetie!), good ! just because the bullies and saddos at Hathill are in the majority doesn’t mean they are right
    The so called “learned” Mel is no more impartial than Carol or Phil. The depot site I understand would provide more plots than the felling of this woodland, but the ” committee” don’t like the idea, allegedly because one of their mates plots would be in partial shade and they would have to back down!
    The ethos of allotments has been forgotten in this debate and I am so glad that we at Allerton do not have to deal with this kind of small minded behaviour

  77. John says:

    Green Goddess. Please don’t be sarcastic, it demeans you and personalises arguement.

    I’ve kept out of this arguement because, to be honest, I can see both points of view regarding the usage of a site and I can understand how members can feel overidden by a committee.

    It would be nice if some sort of reconciliation of people took place even if there was agreement to disagree.

  78. Mel says:

    Point of order people – debate issues and not posters and we can all stay happy. Some posters are clearly cross about the behaviour of committeess and I hope for the disenfranchised that due processes (such as the complaint referred to by Lamby) satisfy their grievances. My interest is in the debate are as Catherine outlined “wildlife vs nature”.

    Im inclined to agree with posts above the council officers must know what they are doing, I know the audit commission inspection of 06 suggested that the council provide a good service (allbeit with uncertain prospects for improvement – I think this prospects stuff is more about how the service is strategically lead and managed than about the front line officers who I imagine would have been responsibile for this decision).

    It is for this reason that I feel that there must be some reason – not yet disclosed for these officers making the decision that they have done in the light of what would appear to be evidence and legislation pointing them in the other direction. Thats why I keep asking what is so special about these plots of land as to lead the council to act as they are in apparent contradiction to their own policy, priority and legislation?

    Now the missing piece of information may be that the council are planning to develop plots elsewhere to deal with their present level of under provision and the waiting lists. Is this actually the case? And if so why the secret?

    Does the coucil have an allotments strategy or development plan that is public (it may be within a leisure or environment plan depending on where allotments sit within the council portfolios). Such a document could shed light on this (can’t find it on council web site).

  79. Philip says:

    Tee Hee Hee! When the Cats away the mice are doing what mice always do and I personally think that this virtual pub forum has reached its conclusion and its last orders at the bar! We will not make any progress here; A case of too many puppet masters and not enough puppets to make a show perhaps?

    There seems to be an ‘idiot wind’ blowing across the plastic clad, blue pelleted allotment deserts at Harthill. It appears to be that any ‘counter’ argument is biased against you. I’m sure you will not be happy until the entire elected council of Liverpool vote on this matter (as if we haven’t got enough problems!?!) and if they vote against you, where then? The European court of human rights? The United Nations? Your ambition for world domination knows no bounds!! I am much amused by yet another anally retentive discussion to rid two plots of trees. The ‘get a grip’ analogy is very apt.

    MEL: “surely legislation surrounding allotments carries some weight” Legislation is ‘always’ open to interpretation, that’s why we have lawyers isn’t it? The Council should be acting in the furtherance of council policy and NOT legislation. That’s the job of lawyers not councillors; the council already has lawyers which I am quite sure are well aware of this situation and are even ‘advising on this matter as we speak. I’m sorry, but rather than seeing a ‘case study’ coming on, I see Haemorrhoids developing, what we need is some effective, soothing relief 😉

    For those posters with the memory of a gold fish (sorry I just couldn’t resist that ‘sarcastic’ shot across the bow) It has been said that the biodiversity report by Dr. Richard Burkmar is in some way “biased” Perhaps you should direct that comment to Dr Burkmar himself? If you read his report carefully you will see that he does not isolate Harthill copse from the surrounding environment. Indeed his study is based upon ‘context’ to the surrounding area and the Allerton ‘green wedge’ With regards to an independent wildlife study on Harthill Allotments then you should refer to Liverpool City Council’s own open space study recognising Harthill being of ecological importance. It seems the committee is determined to strip away this ‘asset’ at all cost!

    We did make one HUGH mistake and that was not to nail this committee in 2003. Yes you’re right, there should have been prosecutions and certain committee members should have been brought to book but as they say – hindsight is a wonderful thing! The council did come in on the ‘good will’ request from the committee – ultimately the committee was the guilty party, the council was the unwitting instrument in all of this! Again, hindsight is a wonderful thing!

    In Conclusion: How can human activity and farming be as bio diverse as a naturalised eco structure? The two are working in totally different directions- Human activity is ‘primarily’ for the benefit of human kind. It is ultimately the use of ‘destructive’ methods of manipulation to farm the land- Digging, pesticides, burning, dumping etc. The two are diametrically apposed; the only way we as allotment gardeners can bring them together is by sympathetic and compassionate farming, putting the interests of nature and biodiversity at the forefront of our thinking; The description of Sycamores as “nothing more than weeds” and birds as being “Flying Vermin” does nothing to further this debate and simply causes even more entrenchment.

    Now we’ve opened up this debate in a more ‘democratic’ manner and got to know each other a bit better, do you not think that we can be friends 🙂

  80. Mel says:

    Philip – I’ll ignore your agressive and flippant tone and if you will forgive me I’ll seek, once again, to return to the debate and avoid the thread being derailed.

    In terms of the Berkmar ‘report’ I did not say that the reports was biased my observation was that it was not objective in terms of the debate going on on this thread. If the debate is about wildlife vs cultivation then a ‘report’ commissioned to ‘discuss the conservation of the trees’ is overtly and clearly not objective. Accademics are trained to be clear at the outset what their research remit is so that it can be critically analysed and so that their research can not be taken out of context. I feel sure that Dr Burkmar will be in no way offended by my observations.

    Please re read my posts, at no point have I suggested anything about posters being biased against me. I have sought the opinion of others and have actively sought evidence to disprove my own conclusions. Presently I can’t see how the council activity is in line with their poplicies and priorites and legislation. I have laid down how I have come to this conclusion and I have sought responses to convince me otherwise. Maybe I have interpreted the legislation wrongly, you have an interpretation of the legislation I cite that is different to my own – I’d love to hear what your interpretation is. Further which council poliy is being followed in the making of this decision because I cant find evidence of it on the web site?

    I acknowledge that the council must have good reason for acting as they have done, I’m sure they must be acting lawfully. I just don’t understand what I am missing about their legislative duties, their expressed policies and priorities. I have asked several times what am I missing? Is there a protected spieces? Do the council have alternate plans(more allotments elsewhere etc…)?

    As for the open spaces study it discusses the harthill estate as being of ecological importance and does not single out these trees or indeed the allotment. (Can anyone shed light on what Harthill estate is?). In the same document the contribution of the allotments to the green wedge is recognised ‘contributing to the physical and visual break between reidential area. Will turning these plots back into cultivatable allotments confuse people into believing that they are residential areas? It seems unlikely. Further this same document referrs to the need to develop more allotments (nearly 1000) and to the problems with allotment waiting lists in this part of liverpool.

    I’m looking forward to your contribution Philip.

  81. John says:

    I’ve deleted a short post from Philip because I felt it would give offense although I’m sure it was meant in a joking manner.

  82. Philip says:

    ………………But I bet it did make you chuckle John! 🙂

    Thanks once again for encouraging this debate. I’d like to thank everybody for taking part and the views from both parties have been very interesting. I can’t honestly say that anything has changed but I’ve enjoyed the banter. I think it’s time for us to drink up, get our coats and go home to the wife and kids!

    Hope we’re not to drunk! 😉

  83. Mel says:

    Don’t go Philip stay and debate the issues 1) what makes this land unique? 2) what council policies are being promoted in the councils refusal to return statutory allotments to cultivation? 3) How is my interpretaton of the policy and legislative framework flawed?

    I’m hoping to visit the site tomorow to see what all the fuss is about and take some photos. From the satalite shots available on I’d be surprised if the area constitutes sufficient volumes of wood to requir a felling licence. Has anyone done any girth measurements (only trees with a girth of greater than 8cm at breast height count)?

  84. The Green Goddess says:

    The officer at the council who can give Mel all the information she requires is Chris Briggs. A policy paper I believe went to the last Environment select committee. Councillor Turner is the first Executive member to take a real interest in allotments and she is visiting every site before the end of the year. She came to Allerton recently, and I know she’s been to Pitville. We should support her as she expplained to me that she intends to spend money on our sites etc. I’m off on holiday so keep debating but remember allotments aren’t just for fruit and veg cultivation. Lot’s of plot holders simply grow flowers etc. Perhaps we should all meet face to face. Ibet that would be interesting!
    Farewell for now

  85. Philip says:

    Oops! Forgot me coat………Um with regards to your points Mel that’s not really a discussion I would like to be drawn into. It’s largely academic and affects nothing. Life’s too short to be going around in ever decreasing circles. Perhaps another poster could help you out?

    The fact remains that the trees are NOT coming down and Liverpool City Council are refusing to discuss the matter any further – FACT! All the rest is nonsense. The kind of stuff you discuss in the pub after work. It means and affects nothing.

    Anyway, enough drivel, enjoy your trip to Harthill tomorrow Mel, We’ll be looking out for you, Oh and if for some reason your piccies don’t turn out let me know, I’ve got hundreds of them!

    only too happy to assist 😉

  86. Philip says:

    By the way Mel, you should try Google Earth! a much better service, more clarity if you see what I mean.

  87. Mel says:

    wow what an oasis your site is and what a beautiful setting – I had really imagined something different when Catherine described it as being in the inner city. If that’s inner city Liverpool must be some city!

    Green goddess thanks so much for signposting me to the environment select committee paper. As you predicted the council officers do know what they are doing – the paper tells of an understanding of the change of use issues. Further the paper recognises the open spaces recommendations (that include the need to develop a further 1000 plots and the waiting lists compounded by unlettable plots) and the need to embrace sustainability and the green agenda.

    So exactly what was the facor that persuaded the council to decide not to clear these plots? I simply can’t make sense of it all. I’ll write to the council officer Green Goddess signposted to – shame he/she (Chris Briggs) can’t post on here. Has no one written and asked these questions before?

    By the way allotment holders in Liverpool are lucky that both the executive member and the assistant executive member are allotment holders, Im sure we don’t have this level of advocacy in my local authority.

  88. Catherine says:

    I would suggest you direct your questions to Liverpool City Council. It is a very rare and special thing to have a senior councillor of a major British city who is not only in favour of the allotment movement but is actively developing strategies and changes that will affect the entire allotment movement on Merseyside for the better. This is something that should be wholeheartedly supported and embraced by everybody in the allotment movement. It is disgraceful and utterly shameful how this committee and its supporters have made a sustained campaign and alleged personal attacks and threats towards officers of the city council and Councillor Turner herself.

    The misguided ambition of this allotment committee at Harthill to free up 2 plots of trees and undergrowth whilst stripping it of its natural diversity; would you not think that energy would be better spent addressing the National allotment crisis where demand is overwhelming the supply? There is a need to develop more plots and the old depot adjacent to the cinder path would in our case make perfect allotment land. I’m sure there are other sites throughout the city that can be developed in such a way. I am certain Councillor Turner and her team have the best interests of the allotment movement at heart and we need to support her in that task. 2 plots are going to make very little difference in the great scheme of things.

    I cannot understand why a small minded committee would pursue such a destructive path. Making enemies of its own association members, insulting and threatening council officials, making enemies with a senior executive member with the portfolio for allotments and even trying to bully the producer of the local BBC Radio station! It has left Harthill totally isolated and pathetic.

    By the way, I have NEVER mentioned anything about this site being ‘inner city’ where did you get that one from? If you visit our Tiny Woodlands Website we make it perfectly clear where this site is situated.

    Get your facts straight!

    For a ‘student’ you seem to be taking a very lopsided view of things. Could it be that you have a vested interest in all of this? What exactly are you studying that makes you so biased? Perhaps all is not what it seems………………….


    Mel, Mel, Mel, the very learned Mel. How is it that you seem to know everything about the executive member and the assistant executive member and yet didn’t know that Mr Chris Briggs was head of Allotment Services? Stranger than fiction……..also pray tell, how did you manage to get access to Harthill Allotments without knowing the combination or knowing somebody on site? Also, Mr “very learned” person what exactly is your assumption as to WHY Liverpool City Council made this decision? You must have some kind of theory.

    Your last posting had a very aggressive tone for a student. What’s eating you up mate?

    THE DOCTOR…………

  90. Mark says:

    re The green goddess Comments
    ‘Councillor Turner is the first Executive member to take a real interest in allotments and she is visiting every site before the end of the year. She came to Allerton recently, and I know she’s been to Pitville. We should support her as she explained to me that she intends to spend money on our sites’

    I thought Ms Turner no longer looks after the portfolio for Allotments. (I am sure she does an excellent job in other areas of her council work and her interest in the Allotments is commendable)
    The money the council is kindly spending on the allotments is from money that our secretary fought with the council for over a year to get. Government legislation forces councils to not profit from the sale of Allotment land and actualy any moneys made from such sales belongs to the rest of the allotments in the area. Our council prefered not to follow this Law after the sale of part of Malborough? allotment site untill they were reminded (and reminded and reminded) of there duties . This money is not there out of the kindness of the council, as they were trying to keep it in other areas, but because they have been forced to spend it on Allotments. I am obviously pleased that the council finally freed the money and thank them for doing this as the extra money amounting to I gather over 200 thousand pound will be usefull in spending on allotment sites around Liverpool .

  91. Mel says:

    Catherine I owe you an apology. It was the opening blurb to the thread that described the plot as inner city not you. Interesting that you take ownership of the tinywoodlands site. I note that the site lacks authourship is this an over sight on your part?

    As for your suggestions that I am biased – you are entitled to your opinion- you will note however from my lines of enquiry that I am curious about why such an apparentl illogical (given council expressed policy and legislation) decision has been made. My enquiries have always been what am I missing? I have been perfectly clear about what I am studying – I’m a post graduate doing research that involves allotments in urban life – no expert just an interested observer trying to form a case study. I will indeed be contacting the council about this matter. As for your insinuations and allegations about individuals and committee I’m sure thats due processes will see them dealt with in the manner that they merit.

    THE DOCTOR OF MADNESS -Thanks for your concern but nothing eating me up. In response to your queery. The fact that the executive member and the assistant executive member have allotments is identified in the minuutes of the select committee on environment of August 16 (avaialbale on the council website – and signposted by the green goddess earlier in this thread) identified as a conflict of interest. My queery regarding Chris Briggs’ gender is because Chris could have been male or female and in contacting them I felt it courtous to use the appropriate prefix. I walked around the perimeter of the allotments by the way did not access them.

    Is there really a need to attack me as a poster. I have only quoted from pubicly available documents and raise queries based on my interpretation. I have repetedly asked what is it that I am misinterpreting or what is it that I am missing? If people don’t know the answers to these questions or don’t want to talk about them fine – but in the interests of civility – don’t have a go at posters.


    Whats your theory mate?

  93. Mel says:

    The only theory I have is that there is a piece of information missing from this debate. The bit that is missing is either a) why the council have made what appears to be an illogical decision (see above for why I think it is illogical) or b) that my logic and interpretation of the policy and legislative framework are not accurate.

    If you are able to illuminate either the debate can move forward.

  94. Catherine says:

    The Tiny Woodlands website is Authored by a number of allotment holders and interested parties with contributions being made from members of the public, professionals etc; It is indeed a collective effort and as such is owned by all who contribute. We didn’t see the need to bore people with exactly who did what. It is apparent in the text who is responsible for this site. It’s not rocket science. What a strange thing to pick up on! Would you like to see our names on it? If so – WHY? People can contact us by email or write to us at our PO Box address. What’s the big deal? We have nothing to hide. This is about our campaign not us as individuals

    If you are finding it ‘apparently illogical’ then please do contact Liverpool City Council, I’m sure they will be only to happy to help.

    “As for your insinuations and allegations about individuals and committee I’m sure that’s due processes will see them dealt with in the manner that they merit.” YES! Indeed they WILL be dealt with!

    Thanks for your apology, A rare thing around these parts lately. Nice to see you posting again Mark! I thought you’d left us for good!

  95. Mel says:

    I don’t agree that it is strange to pick up on the authourship of a web site or any piece of literature for that matter. Appraising the author and the methods they employ in coming to their conclusions is a standard part of critical thinking. Take for example the use on the web site of ‘we’ and ‘our’ as in ‘our campaign’ – the lack of authorship leads the casual reader to believe that there are significant numbers of you when we could be just you and your partner for example. Further the site makes claims regarding the actions of others – failure to own the site makes it difficult for those others to defend themselves of gain redress for any innacuracies therin. To the casual reader the failure to own the allegations you make against others might suggest that they are groundless and without evidence.

  96. Catherine says:

    I suppose it’s the same argument when the committee send out newsletters and sign it “The Committee” and yet we all know who the usual suspects are 🙂 Talk about analysing the ins and outs of a ducks backside!?! I don’t think it’s worth responding to you in the future because the effort and energy put into it is obliviously falling on deaf ears.

  97. Catherine says:

    You are definately biased Mel and I don’t for one moment believe that you are who you say you are. I can’t even understand WHY you are spending so much time posting on this forum, Haven’t you got a ‘case study’ to write? In fact you sound very much like one of our ‘committee members. I don’t think I will be engaging with you any further.

  98. John says:

    I think everyone should be aware that when you post a comment it sends an email to me with the email entered (which may or may not be correct) and the IP from which the comment was posted. This is default behaviour and an anti-spam measure in Wordpress not me trying to spy on you.

    Unless you’re quite a clever geek, covering your tracks on the net is not so easy.

    Mel’s comments regarding your web site Catherine are actually helpful – I don’t read them as hostile. Perhaps the hostility you’ve had on the issue is making you misread intentions?

    Come on people – be friendly and civil. Gaining a friend and losing an enemy has to be a win win.

  99. Philip says:

    Interesting point John that you picked up on the ‘hostility’ that we have had on this issue. I would be interested in the views of the casual bystander to this forum. When I first approached you with this issue I envisaged an open and unbiased debate from both sides but it seems that some people would like to dominate and control this forum and we seem to be engaged in some kind of battle of wits. The argument has developed into something that has lost all logic. I personally think that the forum has run its course. There IS NO COMMON GROUND on this issue.

  100. Mel says:

    How about dealing with the issues rather than the posters?

    I am not going to apologise for seeking to validate the claims on your web site.

    I have made no personal claims of knowledge about this this issue. I’ve read the documants publicly available and am confused.

    You have said you don’t know why the council have made their decision (my first line of inquiry on this site) – and I have subsequently written to Chris Briggs (thanks for your advice in this respect).

    Secondly I have invited comment on what is it about my interpretation of the policy and legislative framework that is flawed? You have not added to this part of the debte Catherine please don’t leave.

    If exposing my areas of ignorance and inviting people to critique my interpretation constitue being biased then I can live with that. I feel confident that readers of this thread will see which posters have and have not behaved with courtesy and respect and I’m content to be judged in this manner.

  101. Catherine says:

    To be fair john, you yourself can take an objective view on all this, unfortunately we happen to be involved in it and we know who the usual suspects are and we also know about the mind Games that have been going on at Harthill and they extend way beyond this forum.
    I second Philips comment; there is no common ground being achieved, no building of bridges, and no willingness by the committee to accept anything but their own will over others. As they say John “resistance is futile- you shall be assimilated” In my opinion the forum has reached its’ full and logical conclusion.

  102. lamby says:


    As you have rejoined the debate, I feel I myself must also rejoin the discussion and ask you once again to withdraw your suggestion that myself, my family and others leave the site if we disagree with the committee.

    I believe you must respect our views, as I respect yours. To quote Voltaire ‘ I may not agree with what you say but I will fight to the death for your right to say it’. I ask you for the third time to withdraw your previous comments out of respect for us as fellow allotment holders.

    Despite coming into the discussion to look at the legal background of the Council’s decision, your quote below is worthy of further analysis.

    ‘The site (Tinywoodlands) makes claims regarding the actions of others – failure to own the site makes it difficult for those others to defend themselves of gain redress for any innacuracies therin. To the casual reader the failure to own the allegations you make against others might suggest that they are groundless and without evidence.’

    Does not this forum not give people the opportunity to redress any accuracies within? The Committee have been given notice of this forum and we have already seen that some posters are in communication with members of the said Committee. That said, are some of the individual posters the ‘Committee in disguise’.

    I find it remarkable that the out of the ‘vast majority’ of about 100 plot holders at Harthill supposedly in favour of cutting down trees, only two plot holders (Carol and Mark) have spoken up for the Committee. The committee themselves are silent. Compare that to the large input from Mel, Helen and Sue.

    I disagree with you Mel. To the casual reader of the Tinywoodlands website, the allegations have gained more ground simply by reading this forum and putting two and two together.

    The Tinywoodlands website contains 22 pages of which 5 partly contain allegations against members of the Committee and their associates.

    Let us look for example at the page called ‘Dirty Tricks Down on the Allotment’ it contains 8 specific allegations.

    1. ‘In December a Committee newsletter asked for volunteers to clear an overgrown plot, then, when they had finished there would be a vote on whether to clear more overgrown plots (that is Harthill Copse)’. Carol’s previous posting confirms this as true.

    2. ‘We phoned the committee for a time of the vote, they refused to give a time beyond ‘whenever the work is done’. On pressing further we were told to ‘stop interfering’ and ‘there is nothing in the constitution to say you have to give the time of a general meeting’ they then hung up.’ Again Carol has confirmed the initial refusal of a meeting and has reinforced her view that you do not have to give a time for the meeting to be Constitutional.

    3.’We realised that our voice would not be heard. We put posters on the trees highlighting the biodiversity of the site….. they were torn down.’ In total over 100 posters were torn down, indeed on personally I observed members of the Committee taking them down.

    4. We put Tree Council tags on each tree saying ‘urban trees matter’ …..they were torn down.’ The fact is that 38 tags were torn down.

    5. ‘It took a third party, after prolonged negotiation to obtain a time of 1.00 p.m. on the 27 th January for the meeting.’ Again this has been confirmed in a previous posting.

    6.At the meeting we discovered that not every plot holder had been informed of the time of the meeting and it was therefore unconstitutional. Once again the failure to give a time has been confirmed by Carol. This is unconstitutional.

    7. ‘The Committee excluded one member from voting against plot clearance because she had ‘not yet renewed her membership’ The lady in question, was publicly humiliated and reduced to tears.’

    To be wrongly and publicly denied a vote in front of 30 people without warning was deeply distressing to the person involved. Can I remind Carol in particular, that posting statements as I quote ‘facts’ and as ‘correcting inaccuracies’ stating that someone was not bullied can add further distress to the person involved. The lady in question certainly felt bullied and you should respect that. ‘This is one of the worst cases of adult bullying we have ever witnessed.’ This is my and others opinion, given what was observed and the personal and public comment made by a committee member to the lady involved that she could ‘always resign’.

    8. ‘We later discovered at least one of the committee had also not renewed their membership but was allowed to vote for the felling of trees.’ Carol confirms the Chairman had not paid his rent, however as previously stated the chairman was allowed to vote and put his hand up for partial felling. Could you get back to me on that one Carol?

    On a final point the following is cut and pasted from a website on adult bullying

    In an overview of this research, Rayner and Höel (1997) group bullying behaviours into the following categories:
    · threat to professional status (e.g. belittling opinion, public professional humiliation, accusation regarding lack of effort);
    · threat to personal standing (e.g. name-calling, insults, intimidation, devaluing with reference to age);
    · isolation (e.g. preventing access to opportunities, physical or social isolation, withholding of information);
    · excessive overwork (e.g. undue pressure, impossible deadlines, unnecessary disruptions);
    destabilization (e.g. failure to give credit when due, meaningless tasks, removal of responsibility, repeated reminders of blunders, setting up to fail).

    Please link to points 1 to 8 above.

  103. Philip says:

    Um Mel, when did we ever say – we don’t know why the council have made their decision?

    Please do enlighten me! I personally remember saying I don’t wish to be drawn into such a debate but that’s about it. We are NOT speaking on behalf of Liverpool City Council and we have already said that you should direct your comments to them. Why are you not doing so? Instead of writing why not ring and speak to the horse’s mouth. The council has made this decision NOT us so please stop banging on SPEAK TO THEM. With regards to posters who have not behaved with courtesy and respect, I understand this and I am pretty certain that given the level of ‘hostility’ so will others 😉

  104. lamby says:

    Regarding your quote
    ‘I am not going to apologise for seeking to validate the claims on your web site.’

    Please look at Tinywoodlands and previous forum postings and specifically itemise any of the specific points 1-8 you still wish to validate. Otherwise I take it that you accept all the claims and we can move forward to dissect the rest of the website. In the spirit of reasonableness and fairness I am only too willing to help.

  105. Mel says:

    John – thanks for your comments, it sure does get fiesty in this discussion when you ask unpopular questions.

    Lamby – sorry to sound clinical but I’m not the least bit interested in the intenal working of your society. But certainly the situation as you describe it is regretable. You have made a complaint and I hope that those who have legitimate grievances achieve from these processess appropriate redress.

    Do you have any light to shed on my original queries? What is it about this issue or about these plots of land that I am missing? Why have the council made this decision when;

    As a statutory allotment the land is designated mostly for the growing of fuit and vegitables for consumption by the tennant (1922 Allotment Act).

    If the council want to change the use of such land from an allotment then they have to apply for a change of usage to the secretary of state (who,in order to prevent the errosion of allotment land, has to satisfy themself that alternate provision is being made, that the allotment isn’t neccessary – waiting lists are a key factor) see This central government power is one of the few powers that central government still levy over local government (for what its worth consent for change of use is rarely refused)

    Further if there is a demand for allotments (as the waiting lists referred to above seem to suggest) then the council have a duty to provide them (Small Holding and Allotments Act 1908).

    What am I missing?

  106. John says:

    It seems quite reasonable to wish to validate claims on a web site – after all there are two sides to any arguement. However, this arguement doesn’t seem to be going anywhere and I’m minded to close off comments on here soon.

    However, you’e all welcome to join in on the members chat forums – but no fighting ‘on there ‘cos Aunt Sally will send you to the naughty step and Muntjac takes no prisoners.

    I still think it’s a difficult one – we want wildlife and natural havens but should that be at the price of an allotment? After all, we’d all be united if they wanted to build houses on the plots.

    Maybe they’d be better letting some part of a park run wild.

    Incidentally, I understand my reference to it being an inner city site was inaccurate – my apologies.

  107. Philip says:

    MEL: “What am I missing?” Are you missing out on life or are you simply ‘Missing the PLOT’ 🙂

  108. John says:

    Philip, we seem to share a sense of humour – unfortunately we’re in a minority – I bet they don’t laugh at your jokes either. 🙂
    Mel – the smiley face is a way of saying ‘only joking’ in case it isn’t clear.

  109. Catherine says:

    Being in a minority John doesn’t make you wrong 🙂

  110. lamby says:

    Good luck with the Council, Mel and I do hope you find your answers there.
    Yes you actually do sound clinical in being ‘not the least bit interested in the internal working of your society’. This involves people and their right to enjoy an allotment without suffering discrimination and intimidation. I know this is not what you are looking for, but morally this is exactly what you are missing.

  111. Catherine says:

    Just think next year we will be celebrarting European Capital of Culture 2008 in Liverpool, what a good idea to combine it with the Small Holdings and Allotment Act of 1908. Would anybody object to this? Wow what a celebration that would be! 100 years of allotment progress!?

  112. Mel says:

    John thanks for your efforts to chivvy posters to behvave with dignity and respect. Clearly there are people who simply can not or who refuse to stay on toipc and resort to personal attacks when the queries or posts of others don’t fit their view of the situation.

    For what its worth I’m just trying to make sense of all this in terms of the councils action – if you don’t want to or are not able to discuss this that is your perogative and i respect that – if you do know however it is poor form calling for open debate and then clambing up when a question is asked that you don’t like the answer to.

    Lamby you miss the point regarding authourship of the web site. I don’t know the specifics of the stuff that you speak. I do know however that in evaluating claims and counter claims on the internet, a piece of research etc.. one of the important factors to consider is who authoured it and what is their motivation and mandate. The site in question repetedly employ the collective pronoun but does not explain to whom that refers – is it just a handful of members of the association as suggested above or is it indeed dozens and dozens of people. If it were just 3 people say that would not neccessarily invalidate the claims there in – I agree that the minority have a as much a chance of being right as do the majority – they just have fewer chances of getting their own way.

  113. Philip says:

    MEL: We have said time and time again that – WE DO NOT SPEAK FOR LIVERPOOL CITY COUNCIL. How many times do we have to spell that out! It’s not a matter of “clamming up” It’s a matter of who is responsible for what. Ultimately Liverpool city council made the decision they made and it is them that you should be directing your questions to. If somebody from Liverpool City Council wishes to come on this forum and explain that decision then I would be then happy with that. If anybody wishes to know who authored the website then they can contact us directly at the contact details on the site- Its no secret you know 😉

  114. Mel says:

    just consider the posibility that other posters might have something to add to my queries Philip. I have made it clear that I’m awaiting a response from the council presently but as I’m not a customer of LCC I’m not too optimistic of receiving a reply.

    I apreciate that you do not speak for the council and I have never suggested that you did. If you can’t contribute to my lines of enquiry or propose your own then please leave me alone.

    I stand by my comments about your web site (3 of you now) your failure to ‘own’ the site and your authorship, state who the ‘we’ are detracts from its credibility (please note that is different from saying that it is innaccurate) and leads the reader to summise that you are being selective with the details and throwing out insinuations about others in the full knowledge that it won’t come back to you. For me personally this has been compounded by your defensiveness of my critique of the sites lack of authourship.

  115. Mark says:

    To paraphrase:
    The Green Goddess
    ‘I understand they can withdraw that option at any time should they have serious concerns?’ she has subsequently (and others) mentioned removing the comittee
    I wrote
    re the green goddesses comments I allways thought a committe is there to support the site, help those in need with in that site and more importantly to take the majority and democratic opinion of the whole group ( which they are doing ). If a minority do not like the committee and feel so strongly about them perhaps they should think about moving to one of ‘the many plots I have been informed are available in the area. I am sure 99% of the allotment would prefer that than losing our committee.
    Then later
    If you read my email re relocating if not happy with the superb committe we have this is a response to the green goddess coments on asking the council to remove the comittee. I stated that 99% of the allotment are whole hartedly for this committee and would not want them removed. if the few that have what seems a personal vendeta against said committee do not and can not work with them their are suposedly a lot of plots around liverpool available then given a choice.
    this was not directed at you or suggesting you be kicked of the Allotment at all and if it came across that way the i apologise.
    I was stating to the green godess that the vast majority do not want to loose our committee as they are important and that if others can not work with them and if they are so unhappy with them being in control there are other options. I do not have the power or believe it is right to ask or suggest that you, my family and others leave the site and if it came out that way I can only apologise.
    I do hope you accept this apology as we do have to both use the allotment site and although have very different views on the allotment we should not build up a dislike for each other because we can not agree. we all got on before the tree issue and what ever the outcome I hope we can build bridges when it is sorted.

  116. lamby says:

    Thank you Mark.

  117. Philip says:

    MEL: Ask yourself perhaps the reason why members would not want to put their names on a website given the level of hostilities and alleged bullying at Harthill. Myself and others are happy to admit that we have been instrumentally in setting up this website and indeed leading this campaign. We have nothing to fear from anybody but we do understand individuals who wish to remain anonymous for what ever reason. Just as we understand the people who voted to fell the trees in one breath and then privately confide to us that they would not like to see the trees coming down! There is indeed something going on at Harthill and perhaps it may be the ‘missing’ link you are looking for.

  118. Mel says:

    Philip my point has always been the your website will have more credibility with ownership acknowledged and identification of whom the we are. I know nothing of the internal politics within your society so forgive me for not passing comment on this, other than to wish those with legitimate grievance best wishes in seeking redress.

    Could the missing piece of information be that the council have decided not to clear the plots at this stage and that they may consider clearance at a later date? If the have not explained their reasons the maybe this is why. Only thing that counfounds me about that is their collusion with the erection of bat boxes spoken of above.

  119. Carol says:

    You have quoted me incorrectly – I did not say that a time of a meeting did not have to be set to make a meeting constitutional, what I did say was that this time of the meeting does not necessarily have to be sent to all members by post. Notification that a meeting is to take place and what the meeting is about it what is required. Everyone had the same opportunity to get the time of the meeting. I state again that approximately half of the members of the association were at the meeting and others had sent their apologies.

    I also have a slight correction to make – there were 13 votes for partial clearance not 15 as I stated earlier – I got my numbers wrong. There was also a letter voting for the clearance of the trees which was not counted as the person was not present.

    My previous post confirmed that the Chairman did not vote due to being in the same position as the lady who was informed that she couldn’t vote just prior to the vote taking place. It was an unfortunate situation but I am told that the committee wrote to the lady in question and apologised for the mistake that was made regarding this. As you will see above – it was clear which way she would have voted and I included her vote in my numbers – 4 for no clearance. I will also repeat that I do not know which way the chairman would have voted. I suspect that he would have voted for no clearance at the time.

    I am sick and tired of people linking the written word of the committee and anyone else who disagrees with the decision not to fell the trees (which we must understand is still being addressed within the council and therefore isn’t a definitive decision whatever anyone might say) with bullying. I have expressed my opinion and asked for answers to my personal questions and have been told “I will not be bullied or intimidated” (not on this forum I have to add). I have not tried to bully or intimidate anyone and I am very unhappy that this accusation comes out everytime I, someone from the committee or anyone else on this forum asks a question or expresses an opinion that disagrees with others.

  120. lamby says:

    Re your posting regarding the website.

    ‘failure to ‘own’ the site and your authorship, state who the ‘we’ are detracts from its credibility …… and leads the reader to summise that you are being selective with the details and throwing out insinuations about others in the full knowledge that it won’t come back to you.’

    Please explain, which of the points 1-8 outlined previously are ‘throwing out insinuations’ (dictionary definition … covert suggestion or hint of a derogatory nature)?
    For someone who is ‘not the least bit interested’ in and ‘knows nothing of the internal politics within your society’ this is quite an emotive statement. Calmly expressed I’ll give you, and hidden in the third person, but an emotive statement all the same about allegations against our committee.

    I ask you once again, please tell me how allegations 1 to 8 outline previously are both ‘insinuations’ and ‘inaccuracies’ (mentioned previously), they are all now ‘owned’ by people well known on the Harthill Site and quite easy for the impartial outsider to comment on.

    For this reason, I ask you once again, in the spirit of fairness and reasonableness to reply to my question, otherwise your argument (also not owned) will lose creditability (please note that this is exactly the same as being inaccurate).

  121. Mel says:

    Lamby I’m sure i questioned your sites credibility not its accuracy, I can’t questionits accuracy in most respects as I don’t know what has happend.

    Its just my opinion – I’d have the same opinon about any document that lacked authourship. I regret given the reaction it has elicited ever mentioning this matter. As for insinuations – your site make specific claims about the actions of others in the form of a narrative – this is what I refer to as insinuations. If you choose to call this something else its your perogative, and I respect that.

    I’ll for the second time decline your invitation to comment on the specifics you refer to because I don’t know anything about them.

    As for your judgement over the credibility of my posts your entitled to make those judgements. Go ahead and critique my interpretation of the policy and legal context for this matter. I have repetedly invited people to post regarding what I have only received in response nothing (cos people don’t know or don’t want to say), rudeness or personal attacks.

    As for others interpretation of my credibility I’m content that my conduct and postings will stand up to any objective credibility test.

    ot wrong and aside from insults and rudeness

    said that I wasn’t saying the site was innaccuratemore than happy for people to read my posts and make their own judgements about partiality or otherwise Lamby

  122. Mel says:

    oops last 2 paras left in in error – they should have been deleted.

  123. lamby says:

    Carol, I did not ‘quote’ you but stated that you had ‘reinforced (your) view that you do not have to give a time for the meeting to be Constitutional’. This was based on your previous quote …..

    ‘It doesn’t state that the time and date of the meeting has to be sent – just notification of the meeting and the reason for it. This was done and therefore I do not agree that it was unconstitutional for that reason.’

    I hope this sets the record straight.

    I certainly have never accused you of bullying anyone, and I don’t believe anyone else has made such an accusation on this forum. I hope this also sets the record straight.

  124. lamby says:


    As a formal complaint has been submitted to the Council, I take it that the letter from the Committee fell well short of what was requested. I have no further comment to make on this apart from repeating for the third time the Chairman did indeed put his hand up and vote at the meeting (for the felling of trees) and this was accepted and counted at the time without question. Am I alone in finding your continued recounts of the vote, (and inconsistent analysis of the Chairman’s intentions) rather bizarre?

    Regarding your quote

    I have not tried to bully or intimidate anyone and I am very unhappy that this accusation comes out everytime I, someone from the committee or anyone else on this forum asks a question or expresses an opinion that disagrees with others.

    I have already replied to this in part, but I am not aware of any plot holders apart from yourself and Mark who have contributed to this forum in favour of the trees coming down. Has, as you suggest ‘someone from the Committee’ expressed an opinion on this forum?

    I really do think this debate is now drawing to a close. There seems to be little / no common ground and it seems you now want to take the Council’s decision over two plots of land to ‘national’ level.

    Quoting statutory laws (designed amongst other things to protect whole allotment sites from developers) to prevent two plots becoming a nature area / public bird hide, is, I believe showing the allotment movement in a very poor and selfish light.
    By further refusing to accept the Council’s final decision on these two plots, the Committee have now alienated the most ‘pro allotment’ Council we have had in decades. This is truly a sad state of affairs.

  125. John says:

    I think we’ve just about exhausted this discussion now. As an outsider trying to be objective I can still see both sides of the arguement.
    I had hoped for less personality in the discussion but I understand the passion on both sides.
    Can I just appeal for one last time that both sides try and understand that holding a different viewpoint doesn’t make someone a bad person. Things seem to have gone to a level well beyond normal – it proves you all care at least.
    Thank you everyone for your contributions.

  126. Carol says:

    I don’t believe that the decision by the council (actually just by Councillor Turner) to be the final decision. The decision has been questioned by a number of people as have the actions of councillor Turner in reaching this decision and therefore until all investigations have been completed by the council (which now does not include Councillor Turner as as Mark pointed out she is no longer in charge of the portfolio for Allotments) no actions should be taken on the land which the people campaigning to keep the trees seem unable to comprehend. The bat boxes should never have been put up and the bird feeders, which have attracted a great number of rats and I believe environmental health have had to be called in on this one, are not even required at this time of year.

    Statutory laws on allotment sites are to protect the site as a whole and the legislation clearly states ANY change of use of the land which includes changing the area into a nature reserve. I say again that the erection of bat boxes in this area is controvening this legislation as if bats do move into them then the trees will become protected and the area will have changed classification without the correct procedures being followed. This is my interpretation of the statutory laws and it has been backed up by a great deal of other people. From this respect I now support the felling of the whole area as keeping plot 16 would still controvene this legislation. I wasn’t aware of the statutory laws at the meeting in January as I believe no one as was either.

    As for the bullying I didn’t say that you personally lamby had accused me of bullying, although you have stated that the secretary bullied another person and as I was there at the time I have said that I do not believe this to be the case. Bullying can be very quickly blown out of proportion. I also stated that accusations of bullying had come from outside the forum as well as inside. It just seems to me that at every opportunity if someone (including council members) doesn’t like what is being said (and all the committee comments above were refering to things said off this forum) then the people saying them and asking questions are accused of bullying and intimidating behaviour. I even received an e-mail from a council member saying that another person was being taken to a meeting as they had heard they might be bullied – they had never met each other and these accusation are very hurtful.

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