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Demand for Allotments – Can You Help?

In the last year the demand for allotments has increased the average waiting list is now 59 people per 100 plots. That’s gone up by 20% in just one year. It’s pretty obvious that local councils are failing in their legal duty to provide sufficient allotments.

Now we all know times are hard and the bankers have run off with the piggy bank but allotments are relatively cheap to set up and very cheap to run compared with things like leisure centres. There really is no excuse for most councils not to take some action.

Sadly some of our local councils can’t even be bothered to keep proper records and respond to a survey. It’s a disgrace, especially when you consider the social benefits of allotments and community gardens.

Of course, nothing much will happen unless we can show these people that the problem is important to us. Generally, politicians of whatever party at whatever level take little notice of things unless they think there are votes in it. So if we don’t ask we won’t get.

Bob Russell, MP for Colchester, has put down an early day motion (EDM 687) stating:-

That this House welcomes the big increase in home-grown vegetables, with seed sales up 14 per cent last year; is pleased that the number of people wanting an allotment has increased by 20 per cent in the past 12 months; is concerned that according to the National Society for Allotment and Leisure Gardeners there are 100,000 people on waiting lists for an allotment; and calls on the Government, local authorities, other public bodies and private landlords to make land available for new allotments.

What You Can Do

Firstly, check if your MP has signed the motion – if you don’t know who your MP is you can find out here: http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/ and you can see the list of MPs who have signed here: http://edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=41647&SESSION=905

If your MP hasn’t signed the motion, contact him and ask if he would sign it.

This is the letter I’ve emailed to my MP, Mr Edward Timpson MP. (That find your MP link will bring up their contact details if you click on their name)

Dear Mr Timpson

I don’t know if you are aware that Mr Bob Russell MP has tabled an early day motion http://edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=41647&SESSION=905 in support of increasing allotment provision.

The situation is deteriorating in that waiting lists for allotments have increased by 20% in the last year alone as this report shows:

http://www.transitiontownwestkirby.org.uk/files/ttwk_nsalg_survey_2010.pdf

Your support for this would be appreciated by the thousands on waiting lists and myself.

Yours sincerely

 

Posted in Rants and Raves
13 comments on “Demand for Allotments – Can You Help?
  1. Chris Marks says:

    Is this list just for English councils? I can’t seem to find any Welsh ones there at first glance (or is it that my local council(s) can’t be bothered to reply? – Caerphilly / Cardiff).

  2. Yvonne Hammersley says:

    Our local council (Waveney District Council) have submitted no information. They have handed over control of all the allotments in the area to the Lowestoft & District Allotments Association. I have no idea what they intend re: provision of new allotment sites. Obviously the Allotment Association does not have the ability to provide new sites, only manage the existing ones.

  3. Steve in Salford says:

    Hello John

    Very interesting I for one are a big fan of EDMs and use them all the time to raise awareness on environmental issues. Have duly lobbied my local MP Rt Honourable Hazel Blears (whose house I was at 2 days after the last election for a get together) in fact I see her on a regular basis.

    But back to work, this EDM ties in with some work which I have been undertaking (as a volunteer from the community)with Salford City Council in fact this very issue came up under the banner of Street Scene last night at the policy forum.

    One suggestion we came up with was the integrated use of RSL (registered social landlord), ALMO’s (Arms length management Organisation)and other bodies to free up pieces of land which were either green space or awaiting development for use as temporary allotments.

    In addition there are a number of people who can not manage their gardens so it was suggested that those could be used as well with LSA (local service area Agreements)and cross border partnership working linking in with Landshare and Adoptments. As it is part of their tenancy agreement to maintain the gardens and some RSLs have been workign with the principle of adoptments to negate this problem.

    I even went so far as to suggest that the process should not take 2 years or more (as it has in case of one of the areas we are trying to adopt)and that they should speed up and ease the process. There one size fits all approach to urban green-spaces was touched on in addition to how they maintain trees, green spaces and other areas, did I mention that Salford is 51% green space, not bad when you compare it to Lowry.

    It was all so much fun, local people can make a difference and never mind this Big Society (the Emperor’s New Clothes) it is just re-branding what has been in existence for some time.

    Onwards and upwards, on a lighter note such a lovely day here and I am housebound with a gum infection, so mind willing but body weak to attend to the allotment today but we have to grab everyday we can to tend our land and our food.

    Keep up the good fight comrades, society is not broken just in need of support, in its ideas and influence in the processes that affect us all.

  4. Jimmy Coyle says:

    John,

    Good idea but further to the comment on Welsh responses it doesn’t include Scotland either!

    Allotments will be in great demand for years to come but those who are successful in obtaining one will fail to use such at an alarming rate as it isn’t like the TV shows and weeds keep appearing unlike Gardener’s World or Beechgrove Garden.

  5. Bill Cross says:

    Hi John: Just another note from Canada’s wet west coast. And I do mean wet -88mm in September so far.( normal is 28mm) Very few sunny days to ripen fruits and squash, tomatoes and zucchini. I noticed that you are having blight problems with tomatoes. I have outside in pots 8 tomato plants with a very heavy crop , have picked over twenty pounds so far since the month started. They are called Ardwyna , I believe a Russian type, grow about 5 feet with multiple stems, and are an excellent cooking tomato. They seem to have very strong resistance to blight. I have grown them for four years now through hot and dry and wet and cool seasons and they just begin to show some blighted leaves as they are ready to go over with the Autumn weather. Blight in tomatoes and potatoes is very common here on vancouver Island.

    Lots of luck with the move. I envy the lucky soul who is getting your allotment. Please keep the “Diary” going. There’s lots of us Westcoasters following it.

    Cheers,

    Bill Cross

  6. John says:

    The diary will continue – although it’s going to be a bit quiet when we move, if only because we’ll be offline for a couple of weeks!

  7. BobF says:

    Jimmy Coyle – for specifically Scottish issues look at http://www.sags.org.uk. The reports from the annual conferences have been an eyeopener. Have had MSP’s in attendance, and SAGS recently lobbed at the Scottish parliament. Keep on at the MSP’s though, unless they hear people asking they will not do anything. If in Glasgow then get in touch with http://www.gaf.org.uk. They are on the back of Glasgow city council who are kind of listening…..

    UK wide then try http://www.farmgarden.org.uk/ari/ which can be a good starting point. As well as keeping on at your MP..

  8. Paul Gretton says:

    I live in an affluent small town in the east midlands. There are traditional allotments but the waiting list is rumoured to be 5 years. I say rumoured because I can’t even get the association secretary to acknowledge my e-mails and she doesn’t answer her ‘phone. Fortunately an enterprising local landowner, a real life “Lord of the Manor”, has made some land available for allotments. The downside is that he needs to charge a more commercial rent. The site is let in half plots at £75 a plot. I have two, £150 p.a.! I’m aware of traditional sites in nearby towns where they are as little as £3 a year.

    The upside is that as the land was once a market garden there is still a rather dilapidated but useable poly tunnel, which we can share space in. The landlord is also very free and easy in terms of what we do with the plots, so anything goes as far as sheds, greenhouses, chickens etc.

    Even though it was once a market garden it became more overgrown over the last decade as the tenant got older and less able to manage it. I’ve had to pull out loads of big roots and am fighting a daily battle with nettles, ground elder and other nasties. Despite this we have had good harvests of potatoes, onions, cabbage, beans, carrots, parsnip, swede, turnip, squashes, sweetcorn and tomatoes in the poly-tunnel. I’m also gradually putting the infrastructure in place, paths, shed, compost bins and so on.

    Some days I wish I had taken over an established plot as trying to get the better of the weeds whilst putting the buildings up as well as cultivation is hard to fit around a full time job. Other days I feel great satisfaction at having started in March with a boggy morass and now having a semi-established productive plot.

    The point of this rambling is to say that private provision does happen but it can be expensive and “greenfield” plots can be a lot of work. It seems the demand is there in my affluent area but that could change as the cuts bite in coming months.

  9. Craig Heap says:

    I have a 30 acre plot of land in Pendle,Lancashire that is in Greenbelt which I want to turn into Allotments. I need to gather letters of support, help and advice urgently needed!!
    Craig

  10. Zoe marsh says:

    I have a 2 acre field in the Derbyshire peak district that is due to be mown for hay(if we get any sunshine) can i make it into allotments After that?

  11. John says:

    Zoe – best contact NSALG for proper legal advice

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