THREE gardeners are being taken to court by a town council which claims they owe almost £3,000 for the clean-up operation after they left their allotments.

Spennymoor Town Council, in County Durham, has launched civil proceedings in a bid to recoup the £2,736 it spent removing rubbish and buildings from gardens at its Durham Road allotment site.

It wants Brian Morgan Purvis to pay the authority £1,481.10 - the £1,368 costs of clearing his old plot along with interest and the court fee.

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It seeks the same amount from Mr Purvis’s wife, Sheila, and friend Kenneth Hope, between them. They were joint tenants on the plot next to Mr Purvis.

The three gardeners, who all live in the town, signed tenancy agreements for the plots at Durham Road in spring 2012 then moved out the following August.

In legal papers submitted to Northampton County Court, which deals with many small claims cases, the council states it issued Mr Purvis with notice to quit the site, because it had concerns about the lack of cultivation and debris and rubbish on his plot.

He insists there was nothing wrong with his vegetable garden but he had already decided the quit the site because of ill feelings between the parties.

The council states it invoiced all three defendants in September, 2013, for the costs of clearing the sites so they could be re-let and that those bills remain unpaid.

But all three intend to fight the claim believing the costs are disproportionate, understanding other departing gardeners have not faced similar charges.

And because part of the costs relate to the remains of a greenhouse that was destroyed by fire even though Mr Purvis sought permission of the town council, in line with its rules, to replace it.

Mr Purvis has had several run-ins with the authority since 2001 when several Durham Road gardeners moved plots.

Last March the council agreed to pay Mr Purvis £736 in relation to that dispute, after he submitted a claim to Durham County Court.

He said: “I’m looking forward to my day in court because they won’t answer questions and haven’t followed the correct procedure.

“It has been an expensive and stressful process for us that has dragged on.”

Mr Hope added: “I’m fighting it too.”

Councillor Ian Harrington, leader of Spennymoor Town Council, declined to comment.

The case is expected to be listed at Durham County Court.