New twist in Briercliffe allotments row

Briercliffe Parish Council notice board
Briercliffe Parish Council notice board

An allotment holder in Briercliffe is seeking legal advice after he was given notice to vacate his plot over what he claims is a false allegation of arson.

Mr Eric McGough (62) vehemently denies an accusation from Briercliffe Parish Council that he was responsible for deliberately starting a fire on Christmas Day at a shed on an allotment rented by the council’s lengthsman Michael Greenwood.

There seems to be one rule for one and another for others

Eric McGough

The development is the latest in an ugly dispute between allotment holders and members of the parish council.

The Burnley Express reported in December that police had to be called when a fight broke out at an allotments’ committee meeting involving Mr Greenwood and allotment holders.

Police confirmed to the Express that officers had studied CCTV footage of the alleged arson and had spoken to a man in connection with it. However, no further action was taken.

Police also revealed that a 50-year-old man was given an adult caution and a 48-year-old man was given a penalty notice for disorder in relation to the disturbance at the meeting.

Margaret Lishman, chairman of the allotments’ committee, told the Express that Mr Greenwood has been given an official reprimand for his part in the altercation.

She also confirmed that allotment holder Mr Eric McGough has been given a notice of eviction after members of the parish council studied CCTV footage of the alleged arson attack and believed him to be responsible, a claim he vehemently denies.

Mrs Lishman, who is also a Burnley borough councillor, said: “Michael Greenwood has been given an official reprimand for his part in the disturbance. His contract is now also under review for the next six months. He has also been advised not to attend future committee meetings.

“Mr Greenwood wrote a formal letter of apology to the council. It is the only formal apology the council has received following the disturbance.”

Mrs Lishman also confirmed that a mediation process is ongoing with another allotment holder, Sarah Seed, who is in dispute with the parish council over her right to graze her sheep on an allotment.

Mr McGough (62) told the Express he is seeking legal advice after receiving a letter from the parish giving him notice of eviction.

He said: “The letter informs me that the parish council believes I was responsible for the arson attack on Mr Greenwood’s allotment.

“I deny this. I have had an allotment here for 26 years, but there are a lot of people very angry with how things are being run now. There seems to be one rule for one and another for others. The parish council claim that the person in the video ‘looks like me, holds himself like me, and walks like me’. It is ridiculous and I am now seeking legal advice.”