Penny Burgess at the Coombe Allotments
Today, 3rd April, I visited Coombe Allotments, a half acre of productivity and social cohesion in the middle of a small Cotswold village near Wotton Under Edge. These allotments are the oldest in Gloucestershire and are one of the oldest in the country, nestled amongst hills where there are cottages listed in The Doomsday Book.
Just over two weeks ago the allotment holders were served notice of eviction because apparently the owner wants this small piece of land to keep her horses on.
Whilst the owner has a legal right to do what she wants with her land, does she have a moral or ethical right to do so? In the 19th Century when the Coombe allotments were first started, the landowners in Scotland were still completing the land clearances which saw the permanent devastation of the cultural landscape of the Highlands.
With so many of our beautiful villages across The Cotswolds becoming dormitories for commuters, or the preserve of second home owners, the protection of assets that enhance community cohesion are vital. On my visit I met many of the allotment holders - some had been there over 40 years and I enjoyed sharing their memories. Some were more recent occupiers, a young couple who had only been in the village for a year or so, but had spent the past year preparing their plot for the coming season, and who were hoping to make use of the chicken pens on site to supply eggs for the village.
This world we live in is going the wrong way, and this is a horrible example. We should be protecting and promoting these wonderful assets. We should be creating more so that anyone who wants one can have one. I'll be helping the @FightForCoombe campaign by every means I can. If I'm elected as MP for The Cotswolds, I will fight everyday to keep these community assets for all my constituents.