ELDERLY allotment keepers have told of their heartache after vandals targeted plots, causing hundreds of pounds worth of damage.

Vandals struck at the allotments in Honeypot Lane, in Darlington, on Wednesday night.

They tipped up compost bins, slashed polytunnels, smashed greenhouse windows and uprooted carefully- tended vegetables in an overnight wrecking spree.

Thomas Hope, 82, has been growing vegetables on the allotments for more than 50 years and said he had never seen vandalism as bad.

He said: “I could not believe what I was seeing when I went up there on Thursday morning. It is disgraceful.

“We spend hours up there and a lot of what we have done is now ruined, a lot of the crops will go to seed because they have lost their protection..

“I have been coming here for a long time and of course we have had the odd bit of vandalism in the past, but nothing like this.

“There were prize leeks in there, which we had been growing since November, which are now no good.

“There was all sorts – cabbages, celery, dwarf beans, we can’t save any of it, the way it has been left.

“They have slashed the tunnels that were protecting all the crops – they are £40 or £50 each a sheet.

“The taps were left running, so all the paths are flooded.

“We will have to start afresh and try to salvage what there is left, but it is very disheartening. We have just locked it and shut the door for today – incidents like this make you wonder if it is all worth bothering with.”

Mr Hope works on the allotments with 74-yearold Louis Benny, who was equally angry.

Mr Benny said: “It is a right mess and I hope they catch whoever is responsible.

“What more can I say? I worked on the allotments every day for months – it just makes you very, very fed up.”

Police are investigating and a spokeswoman for Darlington Borough Council, which runs the allotments, said an allotment officer would visit the site today to speak to plot holders and help get the clean-up operation under way.

􀁧 Anyone who could help restore the plots to their former glory is asked to call Andy Walker on 01325 505071.