PURLEY residents are calling for a deer cull amid claims the animals are out of control.
The issue has resurfaced as allotment holders on Hartley Down band together to try to form their own committee, which will remove responsibility for the plots' upkeep from Croydon Council.
And their main focus is on reducing the area's deer population, which is wreaking havoc on the members' plots.
John Clarke, vice-chairman of Hartley and District Residents' Association, said the council "was washing its hands clean of the place".
He told the Advertiser: "The deer are attracted to the allotments because of all the undergrowth. The council only needed to get rid of that so the deer had nowhere to forage but it hasn't.
"At the moment, there are about five volunteers in the allotments who are working out how to create a committee so they can run them instead and actually get things done."
However, even if the allotment holders succeed in wrestling power away from the council, the method of culling deer will be controversial and difficult.
Mr Clarke added: "There is a big movement to control deer numbers but where the allotments are, you cannot use guns – you have to be a certain distance from houses to be able to use them.
"High velocity bullets have to be used to cull deer because they are the most humane but because of that, they could easily take out someone's window and be very dangerous."
Mr Clarke said those opposed to culling animals had to be realistic about numbers.
He added: "It's all very well seeing the occasional pretty deer but when the numbers are out of control, something has to be done – if that is culling then people need to accept that."
Chris Wright, the Conservative councillor who has been helping negotiate between the council and the allotment holders, said several issues – aside from the deer cull – must be ironed out.
He added: "There is also a long waiting list of people who want an allotment and many plots that are currently neglected or under-used.
"The council can send letters to plot holders who do not use their plots but this often takes a very long time and can be quite a tortuous process."
A Croydon Council spokesman said that, under national hunting guidelines, "hunting towers" would have to be built in order to make a deer cull safe by ensuring stray bullets were directed towards the ground.
He said: "Giving allotment users more control over how their sites are run has proved to be the best way of ensuring that things are managed to everyone's satisfaction.
"The council will still retain responsibility for collecting rents, enforcing rules and paying for maintenance, but the volunteer committee will have a big say in the day-to-day operation of the site."