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Burnside Allotments : Woodchip recycling
fence1.jpg (61186 bytes) Wood chip recycling initiative endangered by inadequate playground fence.

The playground fence at Burnside allotments was ripped down by a small group of teenagers on Sunday 20 September 1998,  apparently using wire-cutters (see photo).

This incident was promptly reported to the police, who arrived and questioned the teenagers for several minutes. It is quite possible that the offenders have been identified. Damage was reported by several people to Cambridge City Council early on Monday morning. The fence was repaired on Saturday 26th September by contractors to Cambridge City Council's City Homes South housing department at the request of the allotment society.

The presence of the playground is in itself very disruptive to adjacent plots, which cannot be successfully let due to children frequently crossing the fence and causing damage. The two overgrown plots to the left of the fallen fence were last used until 1997,  when the plotholders moved to a different allotment site after suffering continual damage. Historically, space for the playground was negotiated by the Council from the allotment society to resolve a local deficiency in play areas for the adjacent housing estate. The allotment society holds that it is the Council's responsibility to provide an adequate barrier to prevent activity in the play area from damaging the allotment site. The existing fence is frequently being breached. Kids are able to climb the fence, make holes in it, or crawl underneath. A stronger fence is needed to minimise maintainance costs and to protect the allotment site adequately.

Allotment holders at Burnside would be very grateful if the fence could be strengthened. During winter 1998-9, plot holders have planted hedgerow alongside the fence, to provide a less easily penetrable barrier, with suitable plants supplied by Cambridge City Council's Leisure Services Department.

Not only is the security of the allotment site jeopardised by the inadequate fencing. So is the recently started cooperative initiative between Cambridge City Council and Vinery Road Permanent Allotment Society to recycle wood chips. The City Council has in previous years had to pay substantial sums to dump waste organic material generated by pruning the city's trees and bushes.

Photo of wood chip pile to be inserted here (when the pile gets big enough !) : LATEST NEWS March 1999 : demand for wood chips has outstripped supply : all the material supplied so far has been used already!

The allotment society welcomed an initiative from the Leisure Services Department and suggested that wood chips could be stored adjacent to the playground at Burnside on plots that were impossible to let because of the proximity of the playground. These wood chips are now available for plot holders to use free of charge as a mulch. Alternatively if the wood chips are turned occasionally and left to rot, there will be compost to enrich our soil after a couple of years.

If the playground fence can be so easily breached by children, the wood chip stockpiles are likely to become an extension the play area ! The allotment society believes that the quality of this fencing needs to be improved, and is keen to ensure that the wood chip recycling project is a success.

Many thanks to John Roebuck and Lee Fish of the City Council's Leisure Services Department for suggesting and implementing the scheme, and also for organising for 8 overgrown plots at Burnside to be ploughed to make re-letting easier. All 8 of these plots have already been let, following a publicity campaign by the allotment society. These plots are now being energetically prepared for the coming season. There is a plan to plough more vacant plots in the same way during summer 1999, and if you are interested in letting one of these in the forthcoming year, please contact the allotment society immediately.

Latest update 03/01/01