Community garden must be turned back into wasteland
WITHYWOOD residents who created a community garden behind their homes are dismayed that the council wants them to return it to wasteland.
Council tenants in Redford Crescent took it upon themselves to clear the overgrown land, shorten their gardens to create more space and turn the area into a communal garden.
It had been full of dumped rubbish, concrete blocks, metal and even drug users' syringes but after residents cleared it the garden fostered a community spirit and was a safe place for children to play.
But now residents say the city council has told them to put their gardens back to the way they were.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
Carol Moxon, 60, one of the residents, said: "If they make us put it back to the way it was, it will become a dumping ground again within 12 months."
Her husband, Mike Garland, 55, a lorry driver who is recovering from a heart attack, said they had the idea after a neighbour's garden fence blew down.
They talked about it with some of the other neighbours and everyone's enthusiasm made the idea work.
Mr Garland said: "The overgrown land at the bottom of our gardens was terrible.
"We found all sorts of rubbish there – car tyres, car engines, it was a haven for rats.
"We cleared out more than five tonnes of metal and shifted about ten tonnes of concrete blocks.
"What we have got now is somewhere special that we all appreciate.
"It's somewhere where we can sit out in the evenings, have a chat with neighbours and see the children play in safety. It's a real gem of a place that we are proud of and want to keep.
"If any new tenants move in and would prefer to have their garden back to the length it was, then no problem – it is their choice."
But Mr Garland said that council officers spotted the communal garden when checks were being carried out on one of the flats in the street after a tenant had moved out.
Mr Garland said: "They've told us that the gardens must be put back to the way they were which makes no sense at all to us.
"We've used our own initiative to turn an unsightly eyesore and health hazard into a place which has generated such a community spirit but the council wants to take it away from us."
The nine tenants have won the support of their ward councillor Richard Eddy (Con, Bishopsworth) who said: "Mike Garland and his neighbours are to be congratulated for having the inspiration and creativity to form a Community Garden which has become a paradise for local children and relaxing adults.
"In contrast, there are plenty of examples of tenants' gardens which have become neglected and overgrown, where the council appears loath to take effective action.
"While certain formalities remain to be completed, Mr Garland and local residents have my total support in their battle to get Bristol City Council to recognise this fantastic creation."
A council spokesman said: "The key issue is that they didn't approach us to ask for permission to remove fencing and so on.
"We're not saying we are opposed to this in principle.
"But first we need to establish what the wishes of all the individual tenants are – one of the gardens involved belongs to a property currently void and we know that the incoming tenant wants his garden to be returned to its former state.
"If all the current tenants were happy with the arrangement then we would consider this arrangement although clearly it would still mean that any future tenant who moved into a vacated flat would retain the right to have their individual garden re-instated.
"And it would still mean that individual tenants would be responsible for the land attached to their tenancy."
He added there might be health and safety concerns relating to sheds and possible electricity installation.