London, October 1 : Bristol City Council is urging people to leave their sheds open because padlocks could lead to thieves forcing their way through doors and windows of the council-owned sheds to steal garden equipment.
The council said that its new initiative could save taxpayers' money because fewer sheds would have to be repaired or replaced.
"Don't padlock your shed; it can save the shed being damaged if someone does try to get into it. If there is a break-in, always inform the police," the Telegraph quoted its guide as reading.
The advice has not gone down well with a gardener at Bifield Allotments, in the Stockwood area of the city, whose shed was broken into a few weeks ago.
Terry Nichols, 71, a retired engineering consultant, who has rented a plot at the site for more than 25 years, said: "It beggars belief that the council is telling us to leave our sheds wide open so that anyone can get in them. Everyone who has an allotment has been sent a letter. I have never read anything so ridiculous in all my life. I doubt the council would pay up if the sheds were burgled while they were left unlocked."
A spokesman said: "Where sheds have been repeatedly broken into, our advice, and it is only advice, is not to padlock them as forced entry often results in the doors being jemmied off. The city council takes security at the site seriously and this year has improved fencing."
He admitted that leaving the sheds unlocked could leave expensive equipment uninsured.
He said: "It would be a matter for discussion between the allotment-holder and their insurance company which would be able to advise them on the conditions of their policy."
The council policy contradicted that of Avon and Somerset Police, whose advice is to "secure your shed with good-quality hasps and hinges attached with coach bolts and security screws, use good-quality padlocks and a battery-powered shed alarm."