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Leeds allotment-holders devastated by major arson attack which left plots destroyed

ALLOTMENT-HOLDERS have been left devastated by a suspected arson attack which left their lovingly-tended plots a blackened heap.

Four sheds were burned down in the fire at Whitehouse Farm allotments in East Grange Drive, Belle Isle, Leeds, with the flames also destroying two greenhouses, a trailer, tools, compost bins, equipment and crops.

Peter Liversidge pictured at the burnt out allotments. PIC: Simon Hulme

Peter Liversidge pictured at the burnt out allotments. PIC: Simon Hulme

Committee secretary Angelika Jones, who is disabled, rents one of the allotments affected.

She said she had lost her shed, a polytunnel, fencing and three flowerbeds.

“Everything is razed to the ground,” she said.

“This is not what we need. Now we have got to start again.”

Peter Liversidge stands among the blackened remains of the wooden structures destroyed in the fire. Photos: Simon Hulme.

Peter Liversidge stands among the blackened remains of the wooden structures destroyed in the fire. Photos: Simon Hulme.

Mrs Jones, 58, said both she and her neighbouring allotment-holder have arthritis and need special tools, which are particularly expensive. They have all been destroyed in the fire.

She said she had not been able to insure the tools, as insurance premiums for allotments are prohibitively expensive.

One of the affected allotment holders, an elderly man, had been left “so devastated” by the attack that he has now given up his allotment as a result, she said.

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She said: “I don’t know who has done it - adults, children, I don’t know - but whoever has done it hasn’t thought about the long-term effects this has.”

Angelika Jones and Peter Liversidge at the arson-struck allotments.

Angelika Jones and Peter Liversidge at the arson-struck allotments.

Mrs Jones, who also suffers from depression, said tending her allotment helped her with her mental health, while for other people it was a way to prevent loneliness or grow gardens when they didn’t have them at home.

She said it was the latest in a string of upsetting theft and vandalism incidents to hit the site.

Even their CCTV cameras have been targets in the past, she said. Now only three cameras remain, of 12 which had been fitted.

The vandals in the latest attack are believed to have struck between 12.30am and 1.30am yesterday.

More of the damage at the allotments in Belle Isle, Leeds.

More of the damage at the allotments in Belle Isle, Leeds.

A police spokesman confirmed it was being treated as arson.

He said: "Anyone who witnessed anything suspicious in the area or who has any information that could assist in identifying those responsible is asked to contact officers via 101 quoting crime reference 13180335740."