LANDSCAPE gardener Darrell Wedgbury is considering legal action against Whitbread after the hospitality giant locked him out of land he and his family have tended for 62 years.
In a David and Goliath tale, Darrell was stunned when he found access to the land, at the back of the soon to be demolished Foxlydiate pub, was barred.
Whitbread has huge leisure interests across a range of areas, including the coffee chain Costa which it sold to Coca Cola for £3.9bn,
The Foxlydiate site has now been earmarked for 12 new apartments and 38 houses and landowners Whitbread say they have given Darrell ample notice to leave.
But Darrell said no date was set in stone and the lockout had damaged his gardening business.
“All Whitbread did was put a notice on the gate earlier this year asking me to contact them,” said the 55-year-old.
“County Councillor Robin Lunn rang Whitbread requesting to see a copy of the licence agreement they’re supposed to have – but it was never sent.
“Then Covid-19 happened and it all went quiet.
“Recently the land was all fenced off and locked up – no letter of warning or anything.
“All my equipment including my mowers are in there and the wildlife is not being cared for.”
Many of the tools belonged to Darrell’s father who tended the two acre garden before him.
His father was asked to look after it by Neville Dare, who built the Foxlydiate.
“I feel they are robbing me of my livelihood and they couldn’t care less,” said Darrell.
Coun Lunn (Lab, Redditch North), who has been campaigning to save the Foxlydiate, said: “The way Whitbread have gone about this has been ridiculous.
“It’s imperative that Mr Wedgbury is treated appropriately and that means allowing him to retrieve his equipment and compensating him for the damage caused.”
A spokesman for Whitbread said the company had made numerous efforts to contact Darrell without success.