Les Standring allotment holder on the Bluebell Allotments in Peterborough tells the BBC’s Paul Stainton that they have been without running water for two months, and the chickens and crops are suffering badly. Broadcast at 07:27 on Tuesday 8th June 2010 in the Peterborough Breakfast Show on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.
PAUL: So an allotment in Dogsthorpe has been without water for two months. The cabbages are suffering, the carrotts are shrivelled, but will it be saved. Les Standring is one of the allotment holders. Morning Les.
LES: Good morning.
PAUL: What about the carrots?
LES: Well everything’s suffering badly. We’re holding our own, just about, but very difficult. It’s a huge site, and none of the allotments on it have got water. We’re really suffering. Plus I keep chickens. The Council had been supplying water to them in drums, but that dried up three weeks ago. So I’ve had nothing since, apart from what I’m providing.
PAUL: This is the Bluebell allotment in Dogsthorpe?
LES: That’s right.
PAUL: Obviously you’ll be happy this morning, because it’s chucking it down with rain.
LES: Helping. It’s helping.
PAUL: You’re the only one smiling this morning. What have you been doing to get round this lack of water?
LES: I’ve got four water butts up there. But they’ve dried up now, well probably filling up again this morning. But that’s about it. That’s all we can do. We’re transporting water from home ourselves, in the back of cars and whatnot. Which is .. you know .. we can get by on it. But the Council are telling us they don’t have to supply water. It’s more or less a bonus. But they advertise the fact that water is supplied by standpipes. What is the problem?
PAUL: How many people are affected by this?
LES: There’s eleven of us at the moment.
PAUL: And why has the water .. as you’ve been told .. why has the water disappeared?
LES: Well they came to turn it on for the season on I think it was about the fifth of April. They discovered a leak at the stopcock. They turned it off. A plumber came a couple of weeks later. The hole was too deep for him to get into. They had to get a part made or something. And that’s it. Oh it will be on next week. I’ve got a letter here from Andy Turner in charge of the allotments, who’s promised it will be on by the end of May. No. And now we’ve been told that it will be on today, or if not, Wednesday at the latest. But we’re having to contact them all the time. We’ve not been told anything officially about this.
PAUL: Well they’ve sent us a statement. I’ll read it to you. ” As the leak is located beneath the road the licence must be issued by the Council’s Highways Team before any work can take place. A licence application has been made and a site meeting is scheduled to take place next week. There’s no legal obligation on the Council to provide water to allotments, and some local authorities don’t do that.”
LES: Well I understand that. I used to have an allotment down at Yaxley, which didn’t supply water.
PAUL: But it doesn’t even say on that statement when you’re going to get it, does it?
LES: No it doesn’t, no. We’ve been told, we’ve been promised faithfully, again, and it’s just not turning up.
PAUL: Well let’s hope it keeps raining for you Les, for weeks and weeks and weeks.
LES: Well, to us, allotment holders, the stopcock isn’t on the road. It’s inside an enclosure that the Council transferred to Cross Keys Homes …
LES: .. that they’ve torn apart. That used to be garages. They’ve torn it apart, and I believe some damage has been done to the stopcock.
PAUL: We’re trying to be a green city Les, aren’t we. We’re trying to grow our own stuff. It’s not a great advertisement, is it.
LES: That’s fair enough. No. No. If we had enough notice we could do more about it. I mean we had no notice, and no idea of when it’s coming back.
PAUL: Well I tell you what Les. We’re going to follow your plight. We’re going to find out when you’re water is turned back on Ok. We’ll put the pressure on. It tend to work on this show, when we apply a bit of a tourniquet to the Council’s neck.
LES: That’s great. I hope somebody does it. I’ve been in touch with councillors. They’ve not even been.
PAUL: Well listen, we’ll take up your case Les. We’ll find out when Les gets his water back.