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June 29, 2009


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Don't get me started on the plastic plods. I saw them hassling a dad outside Maindee school last year - demanding to know what he was doing there, his child's name, the teacher's name - the poor bloke just wanted to pick his kid up, for crying out loud.

Kay Tie

"Here in America, Mrs.Avery would be left well alone to enjoy her flowers since flowers are far more pleasing on the eye than over grown waste land."

I think small-minded morons are everywhere. I know for sure they are alive and thriving in America. A classic example:


The important thing is not to give them summary powers, something MPs ought to have thought about when they voted for the Alcohol Disorder Zones in the Violent Crime Reduction Act (you know, the act that gives barely-trained CPSOs unchecked power* to confiscate alcohol from people coming home from the shops).

* Yes, yes, the Home Office has issued "guidance" several times; woop-de-doo: CPSOs often can't read and I'm willing to bet none of them has ever read or even heard of the guidance.

Grant T

This actually makes me feel sick. Why can't the council just take into account the exceptional circumstances? Why can't they apply some common sense?

I was under the impression that Newport West was one of the tories target seats in Wales, quite frankly they have blown it.

As a member of the Conservatives I will be getting in contact with William Graham AM tommorrow, see what his opinion is and see if he can use the influence he has.

How can they be so stupid? Quite frankly they deserved to be turfed out at the next local elections, for sheer stupidity.

Paul Flynn

Dear Paul Flynn M.P.,

I have just read the BBC news article about Mrs.Avery. I felt compelled to write to Councillor Cooksey and have forwarded you the e-mail that I wrote.
As an Ex Pat living in the United States of America, it really annoys me when I read this sort of news from Wales. It really magnifies the impression of just how small minded this makes the people of Wales appear to the rest of the world. Not the sort of impression we wish to create when trying to promote our country and it's tourism, especially in light of next years Ryder Cup when the eyes of the world will be watching Wales.
Here in America, Mrs.Avery would be left well alone to enjoy her flowers since flowers are far more pleasing on the eye than over grown waste land.
I wish you good luck in persuading the council to see common sense.

Yours Sincerely,

Robert Preece


Victoria Cox-Wall

Community Council-Leave the poor woman alone, she has done nothing wrong and should be supported to keep her allotment. The council should not be upsetting elderly people in this way, I really hope they now realise their error and would like to apologise for their insensitivity.

Justin Cox

The commnunity council are so wrong here and I believe that many of the allotments near Mrs Avery's are over grown and unkempt. Why they are so obssessed with a few flowers when the ground is well tended and pretty much her back garden. An elderly lady harassed in her own home by the very people elected to serve her community is shocking. However, now I have seen the name of the "chair" of this community council I recognise him (from a local election campaign) as someone reported in the local paper as being previously dismissed from his employment. I say no more.

Paul Flynn

From the Guardian Website

30 Jun 09, 12:25pm (about 7 hours ago)
Allotment managers clearly need to have some discretion; having some older people around is very helpful for sharing knowledge and bring generations together who may not otherwise meet each other. If there is such demand for allotments, let's have more sites rather than expel the experts!

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Clip | Link serac
30 Jun 09, 12:28pm (about 7 hours ago)
Shame on the council most of all for being so heavy handed! Maybe a solution would be to discuss the situation calmly and look for a different way of resolving it. Someone might be prepared to share the allotment and plant some vegetables as well if the council insists that planting veg must be their policy. It could be a good, fair solution all-round!

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Clip | Link pjlythgoe
30 Jun 09, 12:32pm (about 6 hours ago)
Can you eat any of the flowers? If so, what's the problem? Not to mention the attraction to beneficial birds and insects. My guess is that if she is bumped off, the new tenant will realise how much hard work it is and sack it after six months.

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Clip | Link YellaBear
30 Jun 09, 12:33pm (about 6 hours ago)
Poor Edith. I hope the Council see sense and take a flexible approach to the rules in view of this lady's long-term dedication to her allotment. She's obviously been working away for years on her patch, through periods when growing your own wasn't seen as fashionable or necessary, and now she could find herself pushed out as others finally wake up and join waiting lists to begin to do what she's been doing for decades.

The Council's allotment policy seems to have a very narrow focus in terms of the identified benefits of allotments. Reducing food miles and improving peoples' intake of vegetables is obviously beneficial, but for many people, especially the elderly, the exercise, mental stimulation and companionship provided by allotments are equally important benefits.

I hope that the Council can come to some sort of compromise that allows Edith to continue to enjoy her allotment while reducing the waiting list. I'm sure there would be many new gardeners out there who would happily share her plot, welcoming the advice she could give after 30 years of productive vegie growing.

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Clip | Link byerli
30 Jun 09, 12:36pm (about 6 hours ago)
Let the stingy local authorities buy more land for their inhabitants to use as allotments!

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Clip | Link grahamew
30 Jun 09, 12:36pm (about 6 hours ago)

If there are other plots unused, they should be reallocated first. obviously, they're harder to allocate as people don't want to do any work on them. So edith's plot - on which she has worked for many years and maintains well - is an easy target.

Why not reach a compromise if space is needed and get someone who only wants half a plot to share the space with edith.

How very sad.

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Clip | Link waywardcanuck
30 Jun 09, 12:45pm (about 6 hours ago)
So one person wants to keep her allotment but can't keep it up, and another wants a foot in the door. Surely this cries out for a partnership. Why not pair up allotmenteers who are no longer to keep up the allotment by themselves with a new partner. The allotment (and its produce) could be shared equally until one or both moves on (in any sense of the word). I know the younger person may do more of the work but they could gain from the older person experience of working the plot - and the chance to have a foot in the door. Surely this is a more graceful ending then evicting the more infirm?

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Clip | Link zakstarchild
30 Jun 09, 12:57pm (about 6 hours ago)
Outrgeous! I agree that tne council should be ashamed of itself.

Is this the only alternative to providing more allotments? Or is it simply cheaper and quicker knee jerk soultion to reducing allotment waiting lists.

I am sure my allotment policy (Runnymede) states cultivation rather than specifically fruit or vegetables. However, I do know they have visited recently and discussed a 're-carving' or trimming of some of the plots to create a few more. So, perhaps we should all be examining our allotments and policies and rope in some extra help if needed. The idea of simply letting all the hard work and knowledge go to waste by expelling an allotmenteer is terrible.

Surely, the council could take advantage of all the stalled building programs to but back some of the land it sold off to developers and create new allotments.

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Clip | Link upnorthkid
30 Jun 09, 12:58pm (about 6 hours ago)
There's a theme emerging in a few of the posts here. More land for allotments.

In most areas of the UK there's a farily common pattern of local councils seeming to have great success in granting planning permission to any developer who comes along wanting to build yet another block of something. Spiining this as some kind of 'urban regneration' when its apparent to anyone with a basic grasp of everything that this is the urban blight of the future and we'll be paying to have this stuff demolished (in decades if we're lucky, the months ahead if we're not).

Meanwhile they seem to singularly fail to do anything whatsoever for local communities who are actually regenerating their areas by growing stuff in them.

Once we've had a thorough overhaul of our MPs can we overhaul our councils as well? Please.

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Clip | Link ruta41
30 Jun 09, 12:58pm (about 6 hours ago)
A very ignorant decision as well as unnecessarily unkind. Flowers attract all sorts of pollinating insects which will encourage larger vegetable crops.

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Clip | Link loopzlp
30 Jun 09, 12:59pm (about 6 hours ago)
I'm not aware of my own allotment having rules relating to what you are and are not allowed to grow - maybe she is selling her flowers to buy veg?

The problem is that there is a fashionable interest in allotments at the present moment, causing an upsurge in demand. Close to three years ago I walked onto my plot - admittedly I had to turn it all over by hand, removing from the site the couch grass and buttercup - I wonder how many people on the waiting lists are prepared for such an effort.

To deal with this fashionable upsurge, measures do need to be taken -councils need to find more space, people need to put in more effort into developing plots, and plots need to be better managed: There should also be a variety of plot sizes (not just full/half) to account for different people's needs. And there should be a limit on the number of plots any one household is allowed - within my my allotment neighbour is currently on a land grab is able to usurp those on the waiting list because they currently hold one plot. Within three years of plot holding they will have over four plots allocated to them...

Unless there is obvious neglect/lack of use there shouldn't be a reason for anyone to intervene into anyone's allotment. Edith clearly tends to her space and I highly doubt that a council would dare take her plot away - especially after a Guardian profile piece...

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Clip | Link recoveringnurse
30 Jun 09, 1:12pm (about 6 hours ago)
Councils specify in their rules what is and isn't allowed, ours disallows anything that doesn't fruit or flower in one year and is then out of the ground.
I have squeezed in the odd fruit bush/plant that isn't allowed but am not so disingenuous as to pretend not to know why I'll have to dig them up, when they discover them.
please don't treat the elderly like misguided fools. she has been on this allotment site for thirty years, she undoubtedly knows the rules. Well done for getting away with it for so long
when she does give up this allotment it will take a huge amount of work to clear it to put it back to it's proper usage. It is not a garden and never was intended to be, a few lines of sweet peas,yes, established shrubs and bulbs no

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Clip | Link tvdinners
30 Jun 09, 1:37pm (about 5 hours ago)
Surely the long time she's tended her plot should be taken into account. A sense of communuity is really important!

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Clip | Link faffodil
30 Jun 09, 2:01pm (about 5 hours ago)
Buddy scheme is a great idea... could go great distances to help prospective allotmenteers appreciate the time and commitment necessary for maintaining what to many people now, is a real privilege to have access to. I abhor the general attitude toward elderly folk who just want to get on with their lives. These bureau bashing council folk should hijack every bit of wisdom their elderly citizens have to offer. Absolutely- turn over the plots which are being wasted to those who are prepared to stick it out season to season.

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Clip | Link CouchSlob
30 Jun 09, 2:11pm (about 5 hours ago)
This comment has been removed by a moderator. Replies may also be deleted. snick
30 Jun 09, 2:21pm (about 5 hours ago)
Wow! Compared with my general impression of how things are done in the UK, this shocks me as a bit heavy handed. In fact, it makes me angry. Thankfully, in Seattle, where I garden, we are allowed to grow whatever we want (except for those crops that would be illegal, and of course, no trees which may shade other plots and be a pain to get rid of when a gardener moves on).

Biodiversity is important. Flowers attract pollinators. Some flowers are "traps" for unwanted insects - in my garden, nasturiums and opium poppies effectively keep black aphids off my veggies. Here in Seattle there is also a waiting list for an allotment, but the only thing that will put you out of your garden is neglect of the garden.

I am unclear if your system of allotments is free of charge or not, but if more land is needed, why not start a trust? We have fundraisers, gardeners who can afford to donate money, and we pay a small fee of $30 per year for a 10 foot by 10 foot plot (some of the larger gardens offer larger plots for a higher price), which helps defray the costs to the city for land that it leases from private parties (some land has been donated, some pruchased, and some is leased). If one cannot afford to pay for a plot, there is money donated from other gardeners so that those who cannot afford the annual fee do not have to pay.

I would be so sad if I could not have flowers in my garden! I have crocus in the spring, daisies, feverfew, nigella, nasturtiums, poppies, yet I just had to give away over a pound of snow peas, because my peas went crazy this year and I am eating them as fast as I can. I have plenty of spinach, arugula, lettuce, and have recently planted the next round of veggies, which will include beets and a fresh start of arugula.

Our system is one of many gardens all over the city. They vary in size such that there could ba as few as 5 or as many as over 200 gardeners at a given garden. No matter what, flowers are included in all gardens (though you plot is your own). We have roses, foxglove, columbine, peonies, sunflowers,you name it, and it is beautiful. My garden is called Ida Mia and it is essentially the backyard of a woman who wanted to honor her deceased mother and daughter with a living memorial - an organic garden. She leases her land to the city and we do the work.

If your council feels that it absolutely must allow some other gardener access to the plot of this hardworking woman, I would suggest a mentorship, in which she gets a chance to have a say in who will be working with her and a portion of her plot can be dedicated to vegetables again, which she and her "student" will share. Throwing away the elderly is a crime.

The website below will give more infoprmation on how we do things here if anyone is interested.


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Clip | Link snick
30 Jun 09, 2:31pm (about 4 hours ago)
I foregot to mention - we are NOT allowed to sell anything we grow. We can give it away. We can donate it to a food bank. Period. Most gardens have a dedicated plot that is expressly dedicated to food bank produce. Our first donation of the year will be chard and turnips and it is looking like we are a week or two off. When we make the donation, we also ask if anyone wants to donate anything from their own plot. There is a contest to see which garden gives the most food to food banks.

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Clip | Link Minnaloush
30 Jun 09, 2:46pm (about 4 hours ago)
'The charm of fruitless trees

* Christopher Lloyd
* The Guardian, Saturday 11 February 2006
* Article history

In writing about pears, I am torn between the fruit and the tree. An old pear tree, whether or not it fruits, is venerable and achieves a great age, with thick stems and rough, scaly bark. It is easy to admire the trees without caring whether or not they fruit. They just are splendid to look at, especially, but not only, when in flower, and that is enough.'

The allotment holder should not be forced to plant fruit and veg, nourishment for the body. Instead let them be allowed to have beauty for the soul, whether it be a bright yellow Zinnia or the beauty, as Mr. Lloyd says ,of the old pear tree.

Does anyone else think the Council are idiots?

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Clip | Link CouchSlob
30 Jun 09, 2:47pm (about 4 hours ago)
This old lady has broken the rules, and knowingly so. She reveals as much when she states:

It's my garden really.

To my mind, that tells us all we need to know. She was treating the allotment as a garden, and in doing so blatent disregarding the rules.

Her eviction from the plot is the least she should expect.

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Clip | Link JHNK
30 Jun 09, 3:43pm (about 3 hours ago)
Guardian readers to the rescue!
this seems to be the relevant council's contact data if anyone wants to contact them and tell them they are mean, mean people (or something more objective) before they meet tommorrow:


01633 893350 or rog.cc@virgin.net

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Clip | Link ellymiranda
30 Jun 09, 4:16pm (about 3 hours ago)
She is 89 and after 30 years of growing vegetables, she needs to take things a bit easier.

Yes, of course, and she should.

You already said what I want to say, so I will just simply give my support for Ms Avery.

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Clip | Link TrishaD
30 Jun 09, 4:27pm (about 3 hours ago)
As others have said shame on the Council. Instead of getting rid of this woman from the allotments scheme they should be finding ways to harvest her knowledge and experience to share with novice allotment holders whether through a partnership or twinning scheme matching a younger and older person to manage a plot or any other mechanism possible. Anyway why shouldn't someone plant some flowers on their plot if they want to in place of or as well as veg and herbs.

As someone else has pointed out flowers attract pollinators and could be of benefit to veg and fruit growers also. What's to stop anyone growing sunflowers and harvesting the seeds to eat or marigolds to keep the bugs at bay. That would help the food growers too.

Live and let live is what I say. All that's needed is a little bit of creative thinking and leeway with the so called rules.

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Clip | Link jentho
30 Jun 09, 4:46pm (about 2 hours ago)
Your parish or district/city/unitary council has to find land and pay for it if you want them to provide allotments. This comes out of your council tax whether or not you get/want an allotment.
Land marked for housing or other development is expensive, even if you can persuade the owner to part with a chunk. £900,000/acre or so.
Agricultural land needs to be accessible, close to the settlement, and then has to be fenced off from the rest of the field. Access has to be bought or negotiated. Again, it can be expensive (£4200/acre) although cheaper than housing land.
Brownfield sites are expensive and contaminated, if not with anything nasty at least with building rubble and may have no soil.
Then there are legal costs in land tranferrance which can be tens of thousands of pounds.
Plus costs of clearing, fencing, putting in water, setting up the management committee.

That acre gives 16 full size, 32 half size plots, with not much for paths and separation. £56,000 per plot on developable land, £270 on agricultural land.

That's if there's any land available to buy which does not generate howls of 'NOOOOO allotments here yucky nasty things with people growing stuff I don't want to look at that'.

And if the council has any money or feels able to raise council tax by enough. If your parish council (1000 households) demanded £100 off you to buy allotment land (raising £100,000 for 15 acres of field plus costs to give 240 plots) - would you pay or would you moan?

If you're in a city, forget it, it's just too expensive and there's little enough green space.

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Clip | Link SameTurn
30 Jun 09, 4:53pm (about 2 hours ago)
I realise councils are infamous for employing joyless, heavy-handed jobsworths but this takes some sort of biscuit. Good grief.

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Clip | Link Putneyboy
30 Jun 09, 4:56pm (about 2 hours ago)
To take away Edith Avery's allotment on a technicality (flowers instead of vegetables) would be an act of unimaginative mean-ness: mean because it would deny someone a happiness that has long been theirs, unimaginative because those proposing this action cannot have tried to enter the mind of the person they will most damage and envisage the effect of their actions.

Of course younger people would benefit from having an allotment, assuming they used it well. But would they want that benefit knowing that it cost someone else's sadness and loss? Does not the council have as much responsibility to care for the old as for the young? Can they not see that the value of an allotment lies in far more than only its capacity to provide food, and that working a spot of land also nourishes the spirit.

Edith Avery is in the last years of her life. Let the Council have the wisdom and the compassion to set aside their rules in this case and leave her to enjoy what she has made, and continues to nurture, for as long as she is able. But go further: offer her the chance to meet a younger person seeking an allotment - perhaps with a young family - and let them work the land together, with Edith as teacher to the newcomer. Let her offer a small part of her allotment to the younger person and gradually, as the seasons pass, let that person take on a greater and greater share of the work, and so of the land and what will grow on it. After all, it's not as if Edith Avery dislikes vegetables (she's grown them for years). It's that she isn't able, any longer, to undertake the work involved. She might well react very positively to such a solution, providing it was done sensitively and without compulsion.

The Council would grow in everyone's estimation if it took such a course. It might begin a trend, too, in other places where the young can join the old in enjoying the great pleasures of growing vegetables on an allotment.

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Clip | Link treehugger
30 Jun 09, 5:19pm (about 2 hours ago)
Looking at the allotment agreement (find it here: http://www.rogerstonecommunitycouncil.com/library.asp), it doesn't specify that you can grow only edibles. Unless I've missed something.

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Clip | Link LynW
30 Jun 09, 5:26pm (about 2 hours ago)
Have councils got tougher? I had an allotment when I lived in a tiny flat a couple of years back, when they certainly didn't seem to be in demand. Somewhat daunted by what seemed like a huge space, I asked the allotment manager what I could and couldn't grow on it. The answer was that I could grow anything I liked, including grass to sit on if that was what I fancied. Another council I lived in had a neat solution to the problem of traditional allotments being too big, which was to divide up a number of plots into smaller spaces. At the time, it, too, was trying to get people onto allotments to stop them being abandoned (it also offered lessons and a good deal on second hand tools). But this might be a way of getting more people space, and stopping older plots getting out of hand.

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Paul Flynn

Comments from the Daily Mail on line

Typical bureacuracy .... did she sign a contract that states she has to grow vegetables? After 30 years maybe she can get squatter's rights?! Disgusting behaviour from the council, let alone treat an 89 year old woman like that! What is happening to the other allotments that are overgrown etc, etc .... I certainly hope they are involved there too! Most likely not of course!
- A, Bermuda, 29/6/2009 11:15
Click to rate Rating 194 Report abuse
This council is being completely unreasonable. They should be targeting the owners of the untended plots, instead of bullying an old lady because she has made a showpiece. of hers. How could any reasonable person even consider taking this lady's garden because she is growing flowers. How can they sleep at night. Shame on them.
- Tina, glasgow, 29/6/2009 11:11
Click to rate Rating 215 Report abuse
Good grief, if the council can't see that the very fact that Edith Avery is tending her plot is in no small measure part of her continued health, I give up!!
- Linda, Expat, Ringsted, Denmark., 29/6/2009 11:08
Click to rate Rating 201 Report abuse
what a nasty lot..shame on them.
- Penny, East Anglia, 29/6/2009 11:05
Click to rate Rating 174 Report abuse
So much easier to demonize OAPs rather than tackle real criminals, don't you think ?
- Gillian, Norwich, 29/6/2009 11:03
Click to rate Rating 203 Report abuse
Stalinist dictators are still alive and well. Until we wake up and vote in Councillors that control OUR staff this type of disgusting behaviour will continue, at 89 this lady must have contributed to the fight for the freedoms we "supposedly" enjoy. Anyone having any connection to this appalling treatment of an old lady should be ashamed of them selves
- Charles, Lancs, 29/6/2009 11:02
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Kay Tie

I read it. It was rubbish.

Paul Flynn

Thanks HuwOS. I have deleted the idiocy. Must keep up the high standard of the correspondence. You are correct, it from an attantion seeking foul-mouthed blog that nobody reads. Mustn't encourage him.


What an utterly pointless irrelevant link to a blog by a foul mouthed pointless waste of space who seems to be under the misapprehension that people would be lulled by his vicious and unpleasant manner into thinking he has something worth saying.

I guess whoever owns the blog is desperate for some attention if links are being planted to lead to it.

It is certainly hard to imagine that people who can read without moving their lips would choose to view his polluting diatribes.


Bet their statement will follow this format:

All praise to Rogerstone CC, Dispensers of Justice and Protectors of The Rules

Subtly menace other non-conforming plot holders with ominous phrases like "takes its responsibilities very seriously" and "for the benefit of the community"

Graciously grant an exception to Mrs Avery on "compassionate grounds"

And in closing:

All praise to Rogerstone CC, Dispensers of Justice and Protectors of The Rules

Chris Carter

What a mess.

The council are going to lose the vote of the local people in rogerstone once that quote of "rules are rules" is slapped on every opposition pamphlet going out for local elections in rogerstone.

How dare they try and remove someone whos paid for the plot for 30 years, who finds it difficult to tend to plants due to her age. If Mrs. Avery is removed from her plot then the council are going to have one hell of a time explaining it.

Kay Tie

Talking of rules-are-rules, looks like ID cards are dead: Alan Johnson has just said that they will never be compulsory, and has abandoned the pilot (ahem) scheme for airport workers to be forced to enrol.

Paul Heaney

Rogerstone Community Council will have to prepare for a very tough lesson in Public Relations, if they don't see the wood for the trees here. The 'tabloid dogs' are waiting in the wings.


George Laird

Dear Paul

The simple solution is that someone volunteers to plant up some veggies and tell the Council they are planted.

Then this old lady can spend the rest of her days tending her garden.

When I hear of clowns like this why isn't there more getting dne to strip them from public office?

Private Members Bill from you?

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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