A LICENSED lay minister is to resign over the sale of community allotments.

Sue Holligan has been a licensed minister at St Peter and St Paul’s Church in King’s Somborne for the past 22 years but will hand her licence back to the Bishop of Winchester at the end of this month.

The news comes after the Diocese of Winchester, which owns the allotments in King’s Somborne, has placed them on the market.

As previously reported, the diocese announced its decision to sell the allotments last year, sparking a petition to save the plots which are more than 100 years old and have been listed as a community asset.

But now the diocese has confirmed the site is on the market and Ms Holligan said this has led to her resignation.

She had previously told the Advertiser that, in her mind, being a member of the church is to value people but she said in this case the diocese seems to be only valuing money.

Now she added: “I just think you need to show the love of Christ and I don’t think the diocese has done that, especially because of the lack of care and concern showed to the parish. The people in the parish have been very very upset. I am devastated. I am upset about it and I can not carry on. The bishop said ‘you have to talk to people, you have to listen to people’ but nobody has listened to us. If they had not put the allotments up for sale I would just carry on doing what I do. It is the final straw which has pushed me over the edge.”

As previously reported, the diocese said a pre-condition of sale will be that any developer of the site will have to provide suitable alternative allotment space.

But Ms Holligan said it is the fact that the allotments are in the centre of the village that makes them even more important for the community.

A spokesperson for the Diocese of Winchester added: “On Monday diocesan representatives will be meeting with members of the Parochial Church Council to provide them with an update on progress now that the allotments have been placed on the market.

“The Diocese of Winchester supports over 250 parishes across Hampshire and beyond and they are reliant on much-needed financial help. As a charity we are required to make best use of our assets in order to ensure that we can continue to support all our areas of engagement in the local and wider community.

“Test Valley Council has included the Kings Somborne allotment site for potential housing development in its Local Plan. Given the diocese’s need to resource the work of its parishes, and the local authority’s need to provide much-needed housing, we believe that what we are proposing will help to contribute to the council’s target for new homes.”