AN ALLOTMENT association is refusing to pay rent to Oxford City Council after plot holders lost almost all their crops in the floods.

The Osney, St Thomas and New Botley Allotment Association is asking for its first rent rebate in its 155-year history after its members crops were destroyed by floods this January and last July.

The association has been in a cash wrangle with the council since it refused to pay its annual £1,097 rent in September and unrest is growing among its 200 allotment holders who believe they are justified in not coughing up the cash.

John Power, general secretary of the allotment association, off Botley Road, said: "We are refusing to pay our rent for the allotments. We're not going to pay when we can't grow on it.

"The land is let to us for the express purpose of growing fruit and vegetables but we can't grow them.

"A rent rebate for one year when countless damage was caused to crops, machinery, tools, sheds and greenhouses would not seem unfair."

Mr Power, 69, who is now set to bring the matter in front of the council's executive board meeting tomorrow added: "First of all they insisted that we pay and now they're talking about us paying in installments but we're standing firm.

"We lost about 90 per cent of our winter and summer crops and I think it would be monstrous to try and do this to us. Our association has suffered serious financial damage and I do think that some help should be given.

"They can come and take the land off us if they like. We have been model tenants and haven't reneged or missed a rent payment in 155 years."

The association estimates that it lost at least £1,100 in equipment and income over the two floods and had previously made an unsuccessful attempt to get compensation from the Environment Agency for flooding in 2007.

Derek Barnes, 65, an allotment holder since 1970, said: "My crops were absolutely ruined and I have had no crops since July. We flooded again in January and its been an absolute disaster. Since July we have had nothing but total devastation."

Mr Barnes, of Abbey Road, who also runs the allotment association shop said: "It's an exceptional move but very justified. If it floods like that again most of the allotment holders will just pack it in.

"Most of the allotments are still under water now and we don't know when we'll be able to start work on them again."

Oxford City Council declined to comment ahead of Mr Power's appearance at the executive board on Monday but confirmed the Osney, St Thomas and New Botley Allotment Association had rent owing.