I as spokesperson and social media campaigner for the Farm Terrace Association feel compelled to write to you. Although your paper was made aware on various occasions, no story was ever written about our case going to the High Courts last week. An incident which has a major affect on the people of Watford as it was indeed Watford Borough Council that we were put in the position of having to take to court. This was because Watford Borough Council refused after many attempts by our lawyers to disclose documents we felt were crucial to the understanding of what they knew about the lack of new hospital facilities, and when they knew it. Such was there dogged attempts to hinder proceedings that we had to ask for a court order for these documents. This was granted.
It seems very strange to me that although your letters pages and comments sections are constantly full of discussions about the Allotment fight, you chose not to cover this story either online or in the paper itself (although you did retweet our tweet regarding it). In fact I find it very difficult to understand why in the 2 years we have been successfully campaigning; your paper has never seen fit to cover the National Campaign we are running as a stand alone story. While I absolutely give credit to you for covering (until now) the ups and down of our legal challenges, I do feel disheartened that our story of a small group of local Watford residents grouping up to take on not just the local Council but also the British Government has not been recognised by our local paper. While our fight has been covered by the Guardian, The Independent and the Telegraph (to name but a few) the Watford Observer only feels compelled to write about us when discussing the “Health Campus” as though we are are a secondary story. In fact as publications such as Private Eye have pointed out, our case is extremely significant in that since 2007 the Eric Pickles, Secretary of State has granted 128 out of 132 applications to close or relocate allotment sites. As far as we know no allotment site has ever challenged such a decision in the high Court and if we win we will set case law protecting other allotment sites. We have led a massively successful social media campaign, our legal battle has been funded through crowd funding of whom many were Watford residents. None of this massive success by a local group has ever been documented by the paper.
I can not begin to understand why there has been this indifference and only hope that when we as Watford residents, as Watford campaigners finally do get our day in the Royal Courts of Justice, you will indeed not just report on our case but also champion it before the day.
Sara Jane Trebar