Chingford pensioners could be forced off Highams Park allotment due to 'petty' rules

Derek Cassie and Clifford Robnett

Derek Cassie and Clifford Robnett

First published in News East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Photograph of the Author by , Senior reporter

GREEN-FINGERED pensioners who forged a friendship while working on an allotment together could be forced to give up their hobby after 15 years.

Clifford Robnett, 83, and his 78-year-old friend, Derek Cassie, have enjoyed growing thousands of vegetables on Beechwood Allotments in Larkshall Road, Highams Park.

But they now fear they will have to give up their passion due to what they describe as "petty" rules preventing them from sharing a plot.

Mr Robnett, of Ropers Avenue in Chingford, claims he was asked to give up his own plot two years ago to help Mr Cassie, of Sinclair Road, whose health problems meant he was struggling to keep on top of maintenance.

The pair were happy to share the workload, with Mr Robnett visiting the plot on a daily basis while Mr Cassie tended to his vegetables twice a week.

But now they say they have now been told by the manager of the council-owned plots that Mr Robnett is no longer permitted to work on the plot alone as he is not officially responsible for it.

Mr Cassie said: "It's such an injustice, it's unbelievable. I help him with the planting and he helps me with the digging, but now we're being stopped because of petty rules.

"He's a lovely man, he'd help anybody, and it'd be grossly unfair for him to have to leave. I might also have to go because I can't do it on my own."

The pair were informed of the decision to enforce the rule earlier this week after Mr Cassie asked for his friend to be included as a tenant on his own plot.

Mr Robnett said he has been offered another plot which is covered with large tree roots, making it virtually impossible to grow on.

He added: "I'm really angry. It keeps us fit and healthy, it's my only chance to get fresh air.

"I'm not asking a lot but I feel as if they've left us high and dry - it was them who asked me to give up my plot in the first place."

The council has been approached for comment.

Comments (28)

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11:37am Fri 12 Oct 12

abbis says...

Bleeding JOBSWORTHS!
Bleeding JOBSWORTHS! abbis
  • Score: 0

1:23pm Fri 12 Oct 12

Cornbeefur says...

The Council Officials tend to lose the plot over some of these red-tape rulings.
The Council Officials tend to lose the plot over some of these red-tape rulings. Cornbeefur
  • Score: 0

1:28pm Fri 12 Oct 12

E4nanny says...

For gods sake what next leave them alone I suppose if they were growing cannabis they would get a grant
For gods sake what next leave them alone I suppose if they were growing cannabis they would get a grant E4nanny
  • Score: 0

2:34pm Fri 12 Oct 12

the dame says...

May I suggest that the Council quietly forget this particular ruling whilst the men are alive. When they pass away, then is the time to review the ownership of the plot. There are greater problems to be concerned about in this borough. Spend time of resolving those.
May I suggest that the Council quietly forget this particular ruling whilst the men are alive. When they pass away, then is the time to review the ownership of the plot. There are greater problems to be concerned about in this borough. Spend time of resolving those. the dame
  • Score: 0

3:00pm Fri 12 Oct 12

AvidLondonReader says...

Some of these stories beggar belief. Of all the problems in the borough, this is what the council concentrates on.
Unbelievable!!!!
I wish this newspaper would name and shame those concerned instead of the generic "council"
Some of these stories beggar belief. Of all the problems in the borough, this is what the council concentrates on. Unbelievable!!!! I wish this newspaper would name and shame those concerned instead of the generic "council" AvidLondonReader
  • Score: 0

4:14pm Fri 12 Oct 12

Trevor 2 says...

Cornbeefur wrote:
The Council Officials tend to lose the plot over some of these red-tape rulings.
They DON'T lose the plot! They create plots of their own. Usually against tne residents of Waltham Forest!!
[quote][p][bold]Cornbeefur[/bold] wrote: The Council Officials tend to lose the plot over some of these red-tape rulings.[/p][/quote]They DON'T lose the plot! They create plots of their own. Usually against tne residents of Waltham Forest!! Trevor 2
  • Score: 0

4:16pm Fri 12 Oct 12

red37red says...

big plot for new flats by l&q if the council had there way!
big plot for new flats by l&q if the council had there way! red37red
  • Score: 0

5:34pm Fri 12 Oct 12

Ms Sensible says...

When I spoke to Ms Jobsworth at the council about my allotment I suggested a way round a problem and she said it wasn't possible, adding, "There is no way round this problem." She said it with such smug satisfaction that it must have really made her day.
When I spoke to Ms Jobsworth at the council about my allotment I suggested a way round a problem and she said it wasn't possible, adding, "There is no way round this problem." She said it with such smug satisfaction that it must have really made her day. Ms Sensible
  • Score: 0

6:56pm Fri 12 Oct 12

JackDaniels says...

If you live in Waltham Forest, get your local councillors involved. They are usually quite human, unlike the enforcers who are just paid to do a job.
If you live in Waltham Forest, get your local councillors involved. They are usually quite human, unlike the enforcers who are just paid to do a job. JackDaniels
  • Score: 0

10:03pm Fri 12 Oct 12

Cornbeefur says...

the dame wrote:
May I suggest that the Council quietly forget this particular ruling whilst the men are alive. When they pass away, then is the time to review the ownership of the plot. There are greater problems to be concerned about in this borough. Spend time of resolving those.
What an obnoxious comment! I wish the subjects of this article a long life, and maybe they will out live the author of this offering, who knows?

At what point in life do you start writing people off? I would not like to be your Grandfather.
[quote][p][bold]the dame[/bold] wrote: May I suggest that the Council quietly forget this particular ruling whilst the men are alive. When they pass away, then is the time to review the ownership of the plot. There are greater problems to be concerned about in this borough. Spend time of resolving those.[/p][/quote]What an obnoxious comment! I wish the subjects of this article a long life, and maybe they will out live the author of this offering, who knows? At what point in life do you start writing people off? I would not like to be your Grandfather. Cornbeefur
  • Score: 0

11:22pm Fri 12 Oct 12

abbis says...

Cornbeefur, this was a sensible and well said sugestion.Do you deliberately misunderstand and set out to be a pain in the........neck?!
I do wish you would say something positive now and then.
Cornbeefur, this was a sensible and well said sugestion.Do you deliberately misunderstand and set out to be a pain in the........neck?! I do wish you would say something positive now and then. abbis
  • Score: 0

5:55am Sat 13 Oct 12

postie1 says...

Cornbeefur wrote:
the dame wrote:
May I suggest that the Council quietly forget this particular ruling whilst the men are alive. When they pass away, then is the time to review the ownership of the plot. There are greater problems to be concerned about in this borough. Spend time of resolving those.
What an obnoxious comment! I wish the subjects of this article a long life, and maybe they will out live the author of this offering, who knows?

At what point in life do you start writing people off? I would not like to be your Grandfather.
At what stage in that comment does the writer " start writing people off " To me as already stated was a sensible solution to a ridiculous ruling.
[quote][p][bold]Cornbeefur[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]the dame[/bold] wrote: May I suggest that the Council quietly forget this particular ruling whilst the men are alive. When they pass away, then is the time to review the ownership of the plot. There are greater problems to be concerned about in this borough. Spend time of resolving those.[/p][/quote]What an obnoxious comment! I wish the subjects of this article a long life, and maybe they will out live the author of this offering, who knows? At what point in life do you start writing people off? I would not like to be your Grandfather.[/p][/quote]At what stage in that comment does the writer " start writing people off " To me as already stated was a sensible solution to a ridiculous ruling. postie1
  • Score: 0

8:05am Sat 13 Oct 12

Cornbeefur says...

postie1 wrote:
Cornbeefur wrote:
the dame wrote:
May I suggest that the Council quietly forget this particular ruling whilst the men are alive. When they pass away, then is the time to review the ownership of the plot. There are greater problems to be concerned about in this borough. Spend time of resolving those.
What an obnoxious comment! I wish the subjects of this article a long life, and maybe they will out live the author of this offering, who knows?

At what point in life do you start writing people off? I would not like to be your Grandfather.
At what stage in that comment does the writer " start writing people off " To me as already stated was a sensible solution to a ridiculous ruling.
If one of the chaps passes away and the other wants to get another friend of his to take over, why should the survivor not be allowed to get alternative help then?

What suggest is like shadowing them with the Grim Reaper waiting to pounce, when really it should be a perpetual arrangement. Why should it be the Death Knell for this arrangement?
[quote][p][bold]postie1[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Cornbeefur[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]the dame[/bold] wrote: May I suggest that the Council quietly forget this particular ruling whilst the men are alive. When they pass away, then is the time to review the ownership of the plot. There are greater problems to be concerned about in this borough. Spend time of resolving those.[/p][/quote]What an obnoxious comment! I wish the subjects of this article a long life, and maybe they will out live the author of this offering, who knows? At what point in life do you start writing people off? I would not like to be your Grandfather.[/p][/quote]At what stage in that comment does the writer " start writing people off " To me as already stated was a sensible solution to a ridiculous ruling.[/p][/quote]If one of the chaps passes away and the other wants to get another friend of his to take over, why should the survivor not be allowed to get alternative help then? What suggest is like shadowing them with the Grim Reaper waiting to pounce, when really it should be a perpetual arrangement. Why should it be the Death Knell for this arrangement? Cornbeefur
  • Score: 0

9:26am Sat 13 Oct 12

myopinioncounts says...

As Mr. Robnett had given up his own plot to help his friend it was not as though he was trying to 'jump the queue' for a plot. I know there were people who shared plots on my allotment site as they could not manage one on their own. Getting out in the fresh air and having a hobby is so important for the physical and mental well being of older people it is hardly creditable that the council have made this decision. Think again WF!
As Mr. Robnett had given up his own plot to help his friend it was not as though he was trying to 'jump the queue' for a plot. I know there were people who shared plots on my allotment site as they could not manage one on their own. Getting out in the fresh air and having a hobby is so important for the physical and mental well being of older people it is hardly creditable that the council have made this decision. Think again WF! myopinioncounts
  • Score: 0

10:16am Sat 13 Oct 12

livedheretoolong says...

I suspect that the Council has a plan to sell off this land in order to build yet more flats.

So this is the start of the intimidation process to get rid of the allotment holders and run the allotment down in preparation for the sale.
I suspect that the Council has a plan to sell off this land in order to build yet more flats. So this is the start of the intimidation process to get rid of the allotment holders and run the allotment down in preparation for the sale. livedheretoolong
  • Score: 0

11:26am Sat 13 Oct 12

Cornbeefur says...

livedheretoolong wrote:
I suspect that the Council has a plan to sell off this land in order to build yet more flats.

So this is the start of the intimidation process to get rid of the allotment holders and run the allotment down in preparation for the sale.
This is a Mystic Meg view and speculation does not help. It would be better to let plots be shared for those who prefer only a half plot.
[quote][p][bold]livedheretoolong[/bold] wrote: I suspect that the Council has a plan to sell off this land in order to build yet more flats. So this is the start of the intimidation process to get rid of the allotment holders and run the allotment down in preparation for the sale.[/p][/quote]This is a Mystic Meg view and speculation does not help. It would be better to let plots be shared for those who prefer only a half plot. Cornbeefur
  • Score: 0

11:39am Sat 13 Oct 12

Thunderbird4 says...

I'm amazed that a council employee can be even bothered to take the rule book out of the drawer, let alone read it!
I'm amazed that a council employee can be even bothered to take the rule book out of the drawer, let alone read it! Thunderbird4
  • Score: 0

12:48pm Sat 13 Oct 12

abbis says...

I agree Cornbeefur.
Conspiricy is not allways the reason for these idiotic tales that occasionally come from our local council.
{However I concede that sometimes that is the reason}
The only reason that these two (petty) law breakers got 'caught' was because they tried to do the right thing.
SHAME! SHAME! SHAME! on Waltham Forest Council.
I am going to e mail the TV stations with this story.
I agree Cornbeefur. Conspiricy is not allways the reason for these idiotic tales that occasionally come from our local council. {However I concede that sometimes that is the reason} The only reason that these two (petty) law breakers got 'caught' was because they tried to do the right thing. SHAME! SHAME! SHAME! on Waltham Forest Council. I am going to e mail the TV stations with this story. abbis
  • Score: 0

11:09pm Sat 13 Oct 12

sensibility says...

If this story is true, then it it totally disgraceful that LBWF will not allow older taxpayers to work together and enjoy time gardening together.

As for suggesting rules should change once someone has died that is also not acceptable.

Just because one generation gets older, the fact remains that the younger generations may need help in the future.
If this story is true, then it it totally disgraceful that LBWF will not allow older taxpayers to work together and enjoy time gardening together. As for suggesting rules should change once someone has died that is also not acceptable. Just because one generation gets older, the fact remains that the younger generations may need help in the future. sensibility
  • Score: 0

12:14am Sun 14 Oct 12

abbis says...

I think that the rule change would mean that this ridiculous rule IS thrown out making life better for the up and coming seniors!
I think that the rule change would mean that this ridiculous rule IS thrown out making life better for the up and coming seniors! abbis
  • Score: 0

1:37am Sun 14 Oct 12

XenaWP says...

Well said Abbis, and go for it with the TV people!
This type of ruling is insane and needs to be abolished.

Somewhere there'll be a council officer tasked with encouraging older people to exercise, while another is taking away that opportunity from them.

And what about the social opportunity? Having a chat and a laugh is just as important to keep a person healthy.

I would like to add that it's not just about older people. I have lived in a flat all my life and I would love to have somewhere to grow fruit and veg. I'm fairly young, but I would not be able to manage a plot by myself because of a health condition. So my friend and I have agreed that, when one of us gets a bit of land, she will dig and I will plant just like these 2 men have been doing.

Only now I'll know to look elsewhere than a council allotment, because I would rather not have Big Brother peering over my shoulder and ruling against the crimes of co-operation and friendship.
Well said Abbis, and go for it with the TV people! This type of ruling is insane and needs to be abolished. Somewhere there'll be a council officer tasked with encouraging older people to exercise, while another is taking away that opportunity from them. And what about the social opportunity? Having a chat and a laugh is just as important to keep a person healthy. I would like to add that it's not just about older people. I have lived in a flat all my life and I would love to have somewhere to grow fruit and veg. I'm fairly young, but I would not be able to manage a plot by myself because of a health condition. So my friend and I have agreed that, when one of us gets a bit of land, she will dig and I will plant just like these 2 men have been doing. Only now I'll know to look elsewhere than a council allotment, because I would rather not have Big Brother peering over my shoulder and ruling against the crimes of co-operation and friendship. XenaWP
  • Score: 0

1:46pm Sun 14 Oct 12

Chris15 says...

Life (well my life anyway) is too short to spend time analysing how WF Council has regressed to what it is now.
What could be done, however, is to ask the Council officer concerned what caused her/him to implement this repugnant rule at this time in this way.
Could it be a tiny step on the way to some kind of land appropriation scheme Soviet or China style?
How is the rule to be enforced against these 2 men? Is a post to be created for another Council appointee to be Big Brother and watch (deckchair, shed, WIFI access, tea-making facilities, sun block etc provided free of charge)?
Life (well my life anyway) is too short to spend time analysing how WF Council has regressed to what it is now. What could be done, however, is to ask the Council officer concerned what caused her/him to implement this repugnant rule at this time in this way. Could it be a tiny step on the way to some kind of land appropriation scheme Soviet or China style? How is the rule to be enforced against these 2 men? Is a post to be created for another Council appointee to be Big Brother and watch (deckchair, shed, WIFI access, tea-making facilities, sun block etc provided free of charge)? Chris15
  • Score: 0

7:25pm Sun 14 Oct 12

Isaythat says...

Livedheretoolong, I understand why you have the conspiracy theory. I too have lost all faith in LBWF and would not be surprised at anything they do (and get away with).
I have thought it suspicious that L & Q have included an allotment in the Stadium plans. Is this so they can leave a large area untouched? or are they really thinking of all the 'green' members of our community?. In comparison, LBWF are threatening to terminate a tenancy of people who have worked on their particular plot/allotment for many years........the whole thing is ludicrous.
Livedheretoolong, I understand why you have the conspiracy theory. I too have lost all faith in LBWF and would not be surprised at anything they do (and get away with). I have thought it suspicious that L & Q have included an allotment in the Stadium plans. Is this so they can leave a large area untouched? or are they really thinking of all the 'green' members of our community?. In comparison, LBWF are threatening to terminate a tenancy of people who have worked on their particular plot/allotment for many years........the whole thing is ludicrous. Isaythat
  • Score: 0

12:11pm Mon 15 Oct 12

Walthamster says...

JackDaniels wrote:
If you live in Waltham Forest, get your local councillors involved. They are usually quite human, unlike the enforcers who are just paid to do a job.
That very much depends who your councillor is. I've given up ever asking Liaquat Ali for help or information on any subject as he has never answered or even acknowledged an request I've made to him over the years. But you may get better councillors in Chingford.
[quote][p][bold]JackDaniels[/bold] wrote: If you live in Waltham Forest, get your local councillors involved. They are usually quite human, unlike the enforcers who are just paid to do a job.[/p][/quote]That very much depends who your councillor is. I've given up ever asking Liaquat Ali for help or information on any subject as he has never answered or even acknowledged an request I've made to him over the years. But you may get better councillors in Chingford. Walthamster
  • Score: 0

11:08am Tue 16 Oct 12

Cllr Nick Buckmaster says...

Mr Robnett lives within my ward and having helped him in the past with other matters,happy to assist again.It does seem heavy handed these two men cannot share the same allotment and sensibly split the workload to benefit not purely from cheaper fresh veg but just pure companionship.I have contacted the relevant officer involved and await a response.
Mr Robnett lives within my ward and having helped him in the past with other matters,happy to assist again.It does seem heavy handed these two men cannot share the same allotment and sensibly split the workload to benefit not purely from cheaper fresh veg but just pure companionship.I have contacted the relevant officer involved and await a response. Cllr Nick Buckmaster
  • Score: 0

11:34am Tue 16 Oct 12

abbis says...

Heavy handed? and then some!
I look forward to finding out what if anything this local authority will do to HELP these two gentlemen, and what if anything they intend to do to inject some compassion and common sense into thier policy and procedures for the department responsible for allotments.

Before anyone says that these rules are there to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to rent an allotment when a previous tenant can no longer use the space....we know!; surely each individual case should be looked at on it's merits. This situation in particular shows just how contrary the advice given by one dept is, as opposed to the action taken by another.
I have now emailed this story to two tv stations. weather anything comes of it is another matter but I just felt that this was one jobsworth too far!
Heavy handed? and then some! I look forward to finding out what if anything this local authority will do to HELP these two gentlemen, and what if anything they intend to do to inject some compassion and common sense into thier policy and procedures for the department responsible for allotments. Before anyone says that these rules are there to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to rent an allotment when a previous tenant can no longer use the space....we know!; surely each individual case should be looked at on it's merits. This situation in particular shows just how contrary the advice given by one dept is, as opposed to the action taken by another. I have now emailed this story to two tv stations. weather anything comes of it is another matter but I just felt that this was one jobsworth too far! abbis
  • Score: 0

4:24pm Tue 16 Oct 12

Isaythat says...

Cllr. Nick Buckmaster, Nice to hear you are seeing this for what it is and even more, doing something about it!. See it through and make common sense prevail please.
Cllr. Nick Buckmaster, Nice to hear you are seeing this for what it is and even more, doing something about it!. See it through and make common sense prevail please. Isaythat
  • Score: 0

4:15pm Wed 17 Oct 12

JackDaniels says...

Cllr Nick Buckmaster wrote:
Mr Robnett lives within my ward and having helped him in the past with other matters,happy to assist again.It does seem heavy handed these two men cannot share the same allotment and sensibly split the workload to benefit not purely from cheaper fresh veg but just pure companionship.I have contacted the relevant officer involved and await a response.
Nice move Cllr Nick. Let's hope this story gets the happy ending it deserves.
[quote][p][bold]Cllr Nick Buckmaster[/bold] wrote: Mr Robnett lives within my ward and having helped him in the past with other matters,happy to assist again.It does seem heavy handed these two men cannot share the same allotment and sensibly split the workload to benefit not purely from cheaper fresh veg but just pure companionship.I have contacted the relevant officer involved and await a response.[/p][/quote]Nice move Cllr Nick. Let's hope this story gets the happy ending it deserves. JackDaniels
  • Score: 0

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