OFFENDERS who are carrying out community service are assisting green-fingered residents by tidying allotments in East Swindon as part of their punishment.

The Probation Service have agreed to set up a community payback scheme with the group who run the Nythe allotments, meaning those made to do the service will help to transform the land before gardeners start running the site.

Work has already started which will see trees cut back and the ground transformed so it can be used for growing.

Gordon Wragg, the Comm-unity Payback manager for Wiltshire, said the allotments were exactly the type of project the probation service look for.

He said: “When we are looking at projects to become involved in there has to be some level of community benefit.

“This for us is perfect. It is highly visible so people can see, the allotments get improved while it is also hard work.

“The Community Payback system is a very effective way of getting offenders to make amends for what they have done to those most affected.

“It is not just a day outside because it will involve hard work.”

Community Payback is an alternative to custody where a person undertakes Community Service for between 40 and 300 hours and they must wear a high visibility orange vest while working. If someone is unemployed then they must work three or four days a week or will be arranged for evenings and weekends if they have a job.

“We are growing fruit and vegetables which we then supply to the hospital and soup kitchens in the town,” said Gordon.

Local councillor Dale Heenan (Con, Covingham and Dorcan) has been helping residents to get the allotments up and running. He said: “The Probation Service have been very enthusiastic about helping the new Nythe allotments by including the project in Community Payback.

“This will be physically demanding work which is a visible punishment that will benefit the whole community.”