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Group takeover Wigan allotments so more people can grow their own

An overgrown allotment site in Wigan Borough is being brought back to life for the whole community to grow their own.

Balcarres Avenue Community Allotments Association has signed a five-year lease to look after the allotment in a community asset transfer with Wigan Council.

The group have big plans to tidy up the site, with many of the plots currently abandoned and not used, and to revamp it so more local residents and local children can enjoy it.

Keith Moss, secretary of the society, first got involved with the allotment in 2013 because his brother-in-law lived on the estate and had a plot.

Keith travels every day from Bryn to work on the site and formed the committee to apply for the community asset transfer.

He has been a landscape gardener for 25 years and said he knew he was taking on a challenge but is committed to seeing it through.

Keith said: “I’ve spoken to a lot of the residents in the area and they’re all willing to work with us. I just want to make it a nice area for everybody to enjoy.

“Although we have now sadly lost my brother-in-law, once I became involved I wanted to see it through.

“When we’ve cleared the land we’re going to lower the trees and build a 25ft cabin to use as a community shelter and classroom.

“I want the local schools to use the shelter and the plot so children can be taught how to plant and grow their own.

“It’s been a real community effort. I want to thank Phil Dawber from Cliffe Packaging and Alan Waterworth and Sons for helping us with the pathways.”

The group have had support from their local ward councillors and received funding to improve the site and open it up to the community.

Council staff from In Bloom and the corporate land management team also supported the group to set up a committee and apply for the asset transfer.

Councillor Chris Ready, cabinet member for communities, said: “The group demonstrated aspirations to develop and improve the site to allow for use by local schools, incredible edible and other initiatives under The Deal which is exactly what we were looking for. This is a great example of what can happen when communities come together and work in partnership to improve the local area.”

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