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"When it's gone, it's gone"

A recent letter to the Telegraph from somebody familiar with the King’s Cross bus station reports that he saw the ex-Home Secretary David Blunkett walking past the bus station with his guide dog at a time when he announced in the Commons there would likely be 13,000 East Europeans a year migrating to Britain. At that time, there were about that number arriving every week at this bus station alone. Most of these immigrants have been extremely hard-working, but they do take up space, and they need somewhere to live.

The population increase in Britain in the last two decades has resulted in increasing property prices and consequently the destruction of pleasant gardens and school playing fields for apartments and flats. There has also been enormous pressure on allotments, those small areas of land let out at a nominal yearly rent by local government or an independent association. Allotments provide fresh food, exercise, green space in or close to town, a haven for wildlife, and a sense of community.

The allotment system began in the 18th century, but many have been sold off by Councils for their high building value. The numbers of allotments have fallen from one and a half million after the first World War to a quarter of a million at the present time. Some of them are privately owned. In Grantham Links, the Telegraph reports that a six-acre site containing 47 allotments is wanted for private housing. The allotment holders would share £2 million. However, allotment holder Stuart Williamson is not prepared to sell. He says, ". . .we have goldcrests nesting in the yew trees. It is an altogether beautiful place."

He adds simply, “This is a little island all on its own, and when it’s gone, it’s gone.”

We applaud Mr. Williamson for trying to save his patch. His words could be applied to the British cultural tradition and to green Britain.