We are here to fight for rights

So our Prime Minister has promised that allotments and our precious green spaces will not be threatened by changes to law being proposed by Eric Pickles.

Fair enough, for the time being we have to take him at his word – but we will be keeping a watchful eye on the issue.

He says it has all been a bit of a misunderstanding and on the contrary we will in fact be able to nail down councils into providing us with more allotments – thanks to the provision of Neighbourhood Plans.

Well you can’t argue with that and I for one am jolly pleased to see that the Coalition are behind the green lobby to protect what precious outdoor space we have left.

Mind you, setting up a Neighbourhood Plan is no easy task. I Googled the subject this afternoon and am already overwhelmed by red tape. However, I am hoping that here in the Dales there will be at least one community group prepared to give it a go and take on the planning authority at its own game.

Eric Pickles is quoted as saying they would mean “more people planning and less politician planning” – I like the sound of that.

“More direct democracy and less bureaucracy in the system... the building blocks of the Big Society,” he said. There you go, it is down to us to say where and when we want more allotments. We just have to get the paperwork through.

I don’t think many of you will be thinking that it was the Mercury’s campaign launch alone that sparked Mr Cameron into making a statement.

Of course not. Local newspapers up and down the land were highlighting what could have been a disaster for the allotment movement and faced with that sort of pressure he had little choice but to pledge our veggie plots were safe in his hands.

This week is Local Newspaper Week. You are lucky to have your own local newspaper in a town the size of Matlock. I am proud to be editor and on pages eight and nine this week I have highlighted some of the issues this paper is fighting for on your behalf. We can’t do it alone though and I am honoured by the support many of you give us. Thank you.

Amanda Hatfield, editor