Couple left devastated after allotment eviction

Heanor couple kicked out the Roper Avenue allotment. Gary Wells and wife Jane.
Heanor couple kicked out the Roper Avenue allotment. Gary Wells and wife Jane.

A PRIZE-WINNING couple have been evicted from their beloved allotment by the committee running the site.

Gary and Jane Wells, from Old Coppice Side, in Heanor, who won a national award for best vegetable plot in 2009, were devastated when they were served with an eviction notice by the committee which runs the allotments at Roper Avenue, Heanor. The site is owned by Heanor and Loscoe Town Council.

Roper Avenue Allotment Association secretary Terry Wright, who confirmed the couple had been evicted from the plot they rented, said there had been five separate complaints about the Wells which led to their eviction. The couple maintain they have done nothing wrong.

The Wellses defied the eviction notice and returned to their plot on March 17, only for the association to call police. They left shortly afterwards.

The couple had tended the allotment for six years and Mrs Wells, 41, said working on the plot had been a form of therapy since having major spinal surgery seven years ago.

She said the pair would visit the site every day and now not doing so had left a big gap in their lives. Mrs Wells said: “We are devastated, absolutely devastated.”

The couple, who had previously served terms as treasurer and secretary of the association’s committee, claim their eviction came out of the blue. They were not members of the committee when they were evicted

They received a letter in January giving them 28 days until March 10 to leave the site informing them complaints relating to ‘their conduct’ in July last year had resulted in the action.

A spokesman for Heanor and Loscoe Town Council said the allotment association was within its rights to issue an eviction notice.

He added: “The allotment association can issue an eviction providing they give proper grounds that the rules have been broken.”

Association secretary Mr Wright has declined to comment further at this stage but said he would do so ‘when the time is right’.

The Wellses have now lodged an appeal with the town council against their eviction. The matter is due to be discussed in private by the council meeting tonight.

The Wellses were awarded best vegetable plot holders by the Garden News magazine in August 2009 for their allotment. A judging panel from the magazine picked the Wells’ plot after several site visits. It beat off a shortlist of 70 plots from around the country.

A spokesperson for Derbyshire police said officers had been called to the allotments on March 17, but did not intervene as it was a civil dispute and the Wellses left the plot shortly afterwards.