Plot holders are protesting to prevent the expanding Teddington Cemetery from taking over their allotment space.

Twickenham MP Vince Cable visited the Shacklegate Lane site on Friday, July 25, to lend his support to their campaign.

Dr Cable called on Richmond Council to meet plot holders and said more cemetery space at the expense of allotments was "not a good way of utilising land".

The Business Secretary said: "I have been a longstanding supporter of local allotments and had a debate in Parliament a few years ago seeking stronger protection.

"I have seen allotments grow progressively more popular over the years, with eight-year waiting lists.

"I don't want to see more disappear and I have written to the council saying there must be a proper strategy for cemeteries."

A 1934 Ordnance Survey map shows a significant chunk of allotment gardens have been lost to the cemetery in the past 80 years.

If plans to expand the cemetery go ahead, the allotment could be developed for cemetery space by October 2018.

Alison Eley, who teaches at Hampton Hill Junior School, said it would be sad for her children to lose the allotment.

She said: "We want to try and bring groups of children from schools here to give them the chance to learn.

"It really is about the fulfilment of growing produce - and eating it, of course.

"It would be really sad to lose all that because there is more demand for an allotment than there is for cemetery space."

Her 10-year-old daughter Miriam added: "I used to come to the allotment all the time when I was little.

"I grow everything and I like the sunflowers."

Another plot holder, Candy Taylor, said her daughter Bella had grown up on the allotment, when she used to make mud pies and explore wildlife.

She said: "It is about sustainability - if we want something for dinner, we can nip over the road and get some potatoes.

"It is a different proposition being given an allotment that is nowhere near your home.

"It will affect the older people."

A council spokesman said: "The land in question is on what has always been designated as cemetery land, but while burial space was not needed on this site it has been used temporarily as allotments. 

"The council has been very clear in ensuring allotment holders are aware of this. 

"In March this year the council wrote to the plot holders reminding them that this land would be needed for burials in about five years, and advised them to put their names down for other sites if they wanted to continue having an allotment after that time. 

"Since that time no representations or requests for meetings have been made to officers, however this would be welcomed."