Intimidation at Rye allotment

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Allotment ownership … cultivation of vegetables and flowers, chats with neighbours, an outdoor pursuit providing a peaceful and healthy way of spending time? Unfortunately, not at the moment, if you happen to be in the Love Lane site.

Allotment holders there have recently been subjected to a sustained, and increasing, period of intimidation from some students at Rye College. What should be a safe and secure environment, often enjoyed by older people, has become a place where gardeners fear to come without locking themselves in securely.

Over the last few days, a group of young boys have taken to entering the allotment area and subjecting individuals to verbal abuse, frightening those trying to follow their harmless pursuit. Separately, a group of older girls have entered the facility and, despite remonstration, used equipment such as wheelbarrows to “play”. At the suggestion of the school, some allotment holders took the opportunity to photograph some of the offenders … but this resulted in actual physical intimidation and demands to hand over one of the phones involved. One girl even accused a holder of assaulting one of the boys … not something that can be ignored.

The school and the police have been informed, with both expressing high levels of concern and have promised that action will be taken to halt this unacceptable behaviour. Meetings are currently being arranged to discuss the situation with all concerned.

The Love Lane allotments are leased from Rother District Council and managed by the Rye Amenity CIC, though this responsibility will transfer to Rye Town Council later this year. While always suffering from petty pilfering, issues have escalated since the system of locking the allotment gates was terminated by the CIC in 2022. This happened despite concerns being raised by the allotment holders through their chair, Nigel Jennings, that this could cause problems. Locks were unilaterally removed, and it has proved impossible to agree a system to ensure the security and safety of the allotments and their users.

This impasse has resulted in increased access of the area by a variety of non-allotment holders, culminating in the latest acts of intimidation by the students. Some holders now fear to come and tend their plots, certainly during the afternoon when the school closes.

Now, to address their feelings of insecurity, allotment holders are reduced to locking themselves in during the day … surely this is not something that should be happening in Rye? It can only be hoped that all involved will ensure that such unacceptable intimidation will be stopped immediately, and a long-term solution put in place to allow allotment holders to pursue their hobby in peace.

Image Credits: Peter Connock .

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12 COMMENTS

  1. Another sad example of children controlling adults. Unfortunately, this has been allowed to happen gradually over the past 20 years or so and is becoming an increasingly worrying problem. I used to work alongside secondary school students with behavioural difficulties for many years but left when I was forever having to file ‘Incident Slips’, and in my own time. Many parents see discipline as a punishment, rather than an essential part of a child’s growth. Set boundaries needn’t be hard work; especially if set in place from a young age. Simple good manners and consideration for others comes more easily if it’s a part of our everyday life.

  2. Hard to believe this antisocial and bullying behaviour is happening in Rye and my sympathies go to the allotment users. Clearly it was a mistake to remove the locks on the allotment’s gates and these should be reinstated immediately. More complicated is how to apprehend the offending Rye College students and decide appropriate responses to their unacceptable behaviour. Subtle and blatant intimidation such as reported here can have significant impact on one’s wellbeing and mental health, with perhaps more of an effect when occurring in a place experienced as a sanctuary.

    The behaviour of this group of students is particularly worrisome because of its blatant antisocial and aggressive quality. This is not ‘kids being kids’ and I hope the response from Rye College administration, the police and the student’s parents will incorporate a combination of having conversations with the students, deciding on appropriate punishment (e.g., community service) and a group meeting with allotment users and offending students.

  3. What a bad news story for the School!
    Suggestions:-
    New combination locks on gates
    WhatsApp group for allotment holders so that the code can be frequently changed
    Any damage of huts, equipment, fences etc to be prosecuted
    School management identify and sanction those students involved
    The School boasts about GOOD Ofsted rating. These incidents undo that grading.

  4. In reply to Paul’s first comment that it’s hard to believe this is happening in Rye, why do you think Rye is any different to any other town in this country.
    This goes nicely alongside the police comment that there’s no drug problem in Rye.
    Take the rose tinted glasses off and look around.

    I’m not saying all the youths of Rye and the college are the same but none of these stories surprise me.

  5. Bring back the birch. Sorted. The oldest punishments worked a century ago, stops it in its tracks. Don’t want to receive a thrashing then don’t behave like morons, simple. Our much respected headmaster administered 6 of the best, but very rarely, and because the punishment was “there” it was rarely used, but if it was warranted then it was administered promptly without fear or favour; remove these deterrents at your peril.

  6. Police can’t do anything, their hands are tied , parents would be up in arms if their children are singled out , the only solution would be introduce prefects with cameras to patrol the areas at break times or whenever the problems arise , then introduce the filmed evidence which cannot be ignored by parents or carers , then dish out penalties expulsions don’t pussyfoot , I worked at the school for 17 years and got sick of the naughty students being rewarded for not being so naughty .The discipline system is broken that’s why there is a shortage of teachers .

  7. My heartfelt thoughts go out to the allotment holders, why should they have to lock them selves in to pursue their pastime.

    Having taught in Further Education for thirty years, this behavioural symptom appears to be the norm nowadays. My own experiences highlight the lack of responsibility taken by school/college administrators to effectively deal with this type of behaviour, especially if it is deemed to be off-site and can be ‘covered up’ to protect the ‘reputation’ of the institution. Sadly lack of parental responsibility is another factor, I know this is a broad statement to make, but I have witnessed this at first hand. Can we also factor in the pariah of social media, lack of suitable punishment to fit the ‘crime’. Above all where is the guidance that these young people need to become citizens of the future or are we going to see further declines in behaviour until we live in a lawless society and fear to leave our homes.

    It seems to me that so many young people are disenfranchised with the education system and many know that poor behaviour is not dealt with effectively, again I have witnessed this first hand. We need to find an inclusive curriculum for all our students that engages them with an education to meet their needs and career aspirations 9if they have any?) and the needs of living in a peaceful society. Not every youngster is a university candidate, many peak at much lower levels, meaning, they are expected to be pushed beyond their capabilities, hence resistance and poor behaviour rather than engagement.

  8. Do not blame this school/college.
    They are doing all they can.
    The problem with bad behaviour starts much earlier.

    I fail to understand. Can someone please explain to me why is it parents cannot say
    ‘No’.
    Teach children boundaries please!

    Children are desperate for guidance. They look to their parents to help them. They follow their example. What they see. They do. Good help us all.

    Is this our future?

  9. I go to Rye and the photos of the girls were received and emailed to the headteacher to be dealt with further. Such a shame that the allotment has had to deal with this as it is a horrible experience for all the allotment holders involved. At the moment I am unaware of how much action has been taken but we received the photos nearer the end of term so I can only assume that more action will be taken next week when we go back after half term if it hasn’t already been resolved.

  10. Do not blame this school/college.
    They are doing all they can.
    The problem with bad behaviour starts much earlier.

    I fail to understand. Can someone please explain to me why is it parents cannot say
    ‘No’.
    Teach children boundaries please!

    Children are desperate for guidance. They look to their parents to help them. They follow their example. What they see. They do. Good help us all.

    Is this our future?

  11. Hidden security cameras with the footage passed to the police and schools would be a start.
    I’m tempted to rant but I’ll leave my comment at cameras.

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