Allotment ban on brewing a cuppa

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Chris Mears with his empty mug: "What problem does this cause?"

Plotholders on the picturesque Back Lane allotments in Winchelsea that are owned by the National Trust have been told that they can no longer make tea on their plots.

Chris Mears, chairman of the Winchelsea Back Lane Allotment Association, is shocked: “I am not aware of any other allotment in the country where plotholders are forbidden from brewing up. Taking a break and relaxing on your allotment with a mug of tea is a hallowed tradition. What problem does it cause?”

Gareth Wiltshire, the National Trust’s operations manager for Winchelsea and Dover, has told allotment holders in Winchelsea that the storage or use of tea-making equipment and the lighting of any flame, including gas-fired camping stoves, is forbidden on trust property. The allotment association has responded by pointing out that the trust does not apply these rules to other allotments in Winchelsea which it leases to the parish council. It also notes that the trust allows the lighting of a beacon on its land and large-scale barbeques on the cricket field that it owns.

The association claims that the trust is responding to unreasonable complaints from a householder whose property borders the Back Lane allotments. It says he appears to be “paranoid” about people being able to see into his garden from the allotment and seems to want to stop any social interaction on the allotments which might mean plotholders staying longer.

These complaints have previously led to the trust forbidding the association’s end-of-season allotment party, the prohibition of benches for use by plotholders, and opposition to the allotment being included in Winchelsea’s Open Gardens Days, as well as attempts to stop all allotment holders having access to one of two storage sheds.