ALLOTMENT holders are being warned that they should not now be lighting fires on their plots.

Hartlepool Council officials have issued a reminder about the rules relating to bonfires on allotments which only permit fires to be lit on the first weekend of every month from October to March.

And they intend to carry out regular spot checks on allotment sites across the town over the spring and summer to ensure the rules are being followed.

Joanne Taylor, Hartlepool Council’s Environmental Projects Officer, said: “Smoke from allotment fires can affect air quality and pose a health risk. Also, it isn’t pleasant for residents who want to sit out in their gardens or hang out washing.

“The rules are designed to restrict the numbers of fires and to limit their impact on the environment, and now that we are into March there should be no more until the autumn.

“While the vast majority of allotment holders abide by the rules - and we thank them for that - we will take action against anyone who is caught lighting a fire when they shouldn’t be.”

If gardeners are discovered to be breaking the rules on fires, they will receive a warning. Those who receive three warnings – either for fires or any other matters that put them in breach of their tenancy agreements – will face eviction.

Instead of lighting fires, gardeners are now being urged to recycle and compost their waste wherever possible.

Anyone wishing to report a nuisance bonfire can call the council’s allotment team on 01429-523406 or e-mail