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Allotment gardeners are claiming their crops have been “poisoned” by arsenic and lead.

Angry: plot-holder Bruce Fitzgerald

Around 50 plot-holders at the Milner Royd allotments near Halifax have been advised not to eat produce or feed it to children.

Site owner Calderdale Council admitted to knowing about the problem for a number of years.

Allotments chairman Bruce Fitzgerald called for tests to be carried out earlier this year when his four-year-old daughter, Lorien, fell ill and he suffered stomach cramps.

“It may be unrelated but it got me worried as our plots are near an old tip,” he said.

Environmental health officers analysed parsnips, kale, leeks and sprouts from the site. One sample was found to have 190 times more lead than would be found in supermarket veg.

It had four times the acceptable level of arsenic, too. All the veg had higher than acceptable levels of lead.

Calderdale Council identified a problem in 2005 but plot-holders say they only found out a few weeks ago. Blood tests have cleared Bruce and his children.

“I have spent hundreds of pounds on the allotment and countless hours to get us nearly self-sufficient. Now it is all wasted,” he said.

“Older plot-holders consider it a small risk and are still eating produce, but you can’t do that with children.”

The gardeners have called on the council to provide other allotments if Milner Royd, which dates back to the 1930s, is not suitable. Thorough soil testing is now to be carried out.

Calderdale Council’s Mark Thompson said: “It’s important that we take an open approach in our dealings with plot-holders. I’ll be writing to them to explain the latest position, what the council is doing and what action we may decide to take in the future.

“The council did carry out soil testing in the area in 2005, but this did not include the cultivated area of the allotment itself. The council now accepts that the 2005 report has implications for the allotments and apologises to those allotment holders who were not informed about the report.”

  • Anni Bufton

    I have the same problem in my garden. I cannot grow anything to eat, only flowers. My house is in a new estate on the site of a former brick works, in the deeds it states that no veg should be grown.