I was reading David Derbyshire’s excellent blog on the Daily Mail site the other day and he was discussing the appalling increases in allotment rents that many councils are imposing. The article can be found here: Squeezing the pips out of allotment holders makes no sense
We’ve come to expect inflation increases in allotment rents each year, usually the subject of much moaning on the site but acceptable. A pound or two a year has been the norm ever since I took on my plot but these increases are extortion.
David points out that Barnet in London is going up from £58 a year for a standard 10 rod plot to £170 and non-residents of the borough are looking at an increase from £110 to £340 a year.
It’s not just London allotments, apparently Leeds and Manchester have jumped onto the bandwagon. I dare say many other councils will be taking a lead from them and rubbing their grubby hands at the thought of an increase in revenue.
Now we know times are hard and that money has to be saved from the public purse, but are allotments the right target? In recent years the popularity of allotments has increased and we’ve seen an influx of new blood on the sites which is very welcome. Young mothers bringing their children to learn where the food on the plate comes from and professional’s discovering a new and fashionable hobby. I’ve even heard of some people paying a gardener to look after a plot for them, which defeats the object in my book!
NSALG managed to shoot themselves in the foot by publishing and promoting heavily a report claiming the average plot could save a family £1564 a year. I personally think that is bunkum, most keen plot holders won’t save anything like that. However, it’s ammunition for the councils. If you’re saving £1500 then charging £300 isn’t so bad, they say. Of course allotment holders save money but if that was the only reason for having a plot then they’d be better off getting a second job. At just £6 per hour their time would generate over £900 a year.
Core Allotment Holders
There are some on the sites who won’t find £300 a year worth worrying about but many of us will. The retired on fixed incomes which shrink in value as everything else increases, those on sickness benefits and the unemployed just can’t pay this.
Those in low paid jobs, the traditional working class, are really feeling the squeeze and increases like that are the final straw. Yet these are the people allotments were created for and they’re the people who will still be digging away long after fashions have changed the wealthy have found new hobbies.
Social Benefits of Allotments
Physical health is improved of course, which has to save money for the NHS and there are proven mental health benefits as well. I know myself that overwhelming problems fall into perspective after a day on the plot re-connecting with reality and chatting to other people.
When I first took on my plot we had serious financial problems and quite frankly they could easily have crushed me. Now there are many people in the same position and time spent in a hobby that actually saves money rather than costing money can really help.
What to do about allotment rent increases
If your council are trying to increase your allotment rent unfairly then the best way to counter it is on the political front. Remember, all politicians want to get re-elected so something that threatens that will be taken seriously.
Download a list of your councillors from the web site and write to the all. Don’t email – write on paper. Letters are always taken more seriously than email. Mail merge is helpful for this.
Point out the benefits of allotments, find out what they’re increasing charges in other areas by and compare to those. For example, ‘The price of parking has risen by 5% but the proposed allotment rent increase is 300%’ Get others on the site to write or at least sign your letter.
Petitions have some effect but far more if they’re handed in with the local press and a photographer taking shots. Make it clear that “We’re as mad as hell and we aren’t going to take it anymore!”
Allotment Conspiracy Theory?
If they increase the rents and drive off the core plot holders, eventually they end up with empty sites to sell to developers when the market turns around, as it will, in a few years.
If you want to keep your plot affordable, if you want to keep your plot then you need to take action. Not national action, this is a local issue, you need to take local action.
Well said! i have been on our plots since 2007 and i know a lot of the ‘old timers’ so to say, and if this sort of charge ever reaches here i know they’ll not be able to afford it!! I come from a family who always had allotments when i was young, it’s not about how much you can save a year!! its a hobby and, i spend a fortune!! lol! but i enjoy it.
If this happens to be a trend and all councils follow suite then what i say is plant in there lovely borders!! i’ve heard a few towns already do this, not a bad idea eh.
As you say these are local problems with no doubt a range of different factors to be taken into consideration. However, many are likely to find that the majority of the increases are due to staff costs.
A possible first step is to question the validity of these quoted staff costs, but real wins are likely to be seen where sites are prepared, and can persuade councils, to let them go partially or fully self-managed. If the site is doing some or all of the maintenance work then that should translate into rent savings.
BAK, I understand a lot of allotment sites are subsidised by councils so going down the self-funding / management route could be expensive?
Of course, the sites could enter into fund raising activities but I worry that this is turning them into a ‘club’ rather than the social service they always have been
It is important to all maintain the same line on this issue. Get a petition together of all your plot holders. Even produce a pro~forma letter and hand and it out to lot holders to sign and post. If we do nothing the councils will have their way!
Very interesting article. I will say that I have a council plot of 10 rods in the south and its £35 a year plus water rates and I use this for my chickens and winter /long term easy maintenance veg but I also rent a plot a quater the size near where I work for plants that need daily water etc and I pay £15.50 a month. I do get free manure, sand , hosepipes and all the tools thrown in for this though. I think that the council rent is actually low and would pay more if asked but as mentioned its a social activity possibly for people who only get contact with other people at a site. I think that the prices could go up but only on a reasonable amout. After all it does cost the councils to run these places probably more that they ever charge.( this makes a change nowadays!!) We just have to keep on our toes on this one.
Thanks for drawing our attention to this one John – our bill has already come in and been paid for 2011 with just a small increase, but it always helps to be aware of what might be about to happen.
I couldn’t help running a quick price test, so I’ve just dropped the items we got from the plot for this week (kale and parsnips, plus a pumpkin we’d stored) into the online shopping basket of a major supermarket and it came to £3. Granted, we get more produce in the summer, but the mind boggles at the thought of a ‘saving’ of more than £1500 a year! As you say, it is absolute nonsense.
Consider challenging rent increases based on the case of Harwood v Borough of Reigate and Banstead:
“the ….. charge should be in line with the increases in respect of … other recreational facilities.”
Case report here http://bucksburnallotments.co.uk/Documents/Harwood%20v%20Reigate%20and%20Banstead%20Council.pdf
A Google search will reveal additional victories in this respect. You might need to mount a Freedom of Information Request of your Local Authority in respect of increased charges for ‘comparable’ recreational activities. (That, in itself, might result in a climbdown).
I have had an allotment for six years and hope to have it for many more (I’m still at work) .As is quite rightly mentioned in your article,the social and health benefits alone are worth considering.I find being on my allotment relaxing and invigorating,as does my wife who suffers with depression.That’s before we get onto the good,wholesome produce,much of which we share with family and friends.
We are a limited company and set our own rents,but the land does belong to the Council.It would be a pity if allotments,traditionally the working man’s hobby,were to be priced outof the reach of ordinary people.We will all have to be aware of this and fight for our plots.
Here’s a thought, if all plot holders put into a fund for a national campaign to employ a legal eagle (the one Gorge Osborne uses?) to find a legal way of avoiding paying any fees? If that’s the way our illustrious leaders can waive their financial obligations to the nation then why not us? Avoidance is ok; most of the richest in our society do it with a pat on the back it seems.
Unity is strength the 38degrees way is a good way of lobbying government and I’m sure the court of human rights could look on failure to close loopholes for the rich and standing back whilst councils impose 300% payment increases to plot holders as just plain WRONG
I work for a local authority and we have been given the stark choice of either raising more revenue or losing more jobs. Having seen 25% of my colleagues made redundant it isn’t an idle threat. I can therefore well understand why councils are looking at allotments as a potential source of income. When I was looking for a plot last year I made the usual discovery that I would have to go on a waiting list and it might take up to 10 years. I was also astonished to discover that some plots were as cheap as £3 a year. I ended up getting a plot on land owned by our local “squire” which he charges £150 for, although most people only have a half plot. That’s only £3 a week, less than a pint, 20 fags a round of golf or many other things that people choose to spend their money on. Treating it as a hobby (as most do) it seems like a bargain. The reality is that some of the token rents charged historically reflect a totally bygone age. I think the rent hikes are regrettable but still represent good value. To compare it with other leisure activities provided by local authorities would be unhelpful. It costs more than an increased week’s allotment rent to swim at the local leisure centre for example.
Market forces were bound to prevail with the current rise in demand. Perhaps suggesting reduced rents for those in receipt of benefits may find more sympathy with the powers that be.
Thanks for your comment, Paul. However few allotments have £3 rents – the average seems to be nearer £50 for a 10 rod plot.
I’m not so sure about ‘bygone age’ though. To a lot of pensioners, unemployed, disabled and working poor the rises proposed by some councils will push them out.
If you were one of the 25% redundant, your view of £150 may change. I know it’s only £3 a week but when you’re on the breadline that is significant. Of course reduced rents for those getting benefits is a step in the right direction.
I’ve never seen a government report extolling the mental health and social cohesion benefits to society as a whole from a round of golf. Nor have I seen whole families enjoying a day on the golf course.
But thanks for putting the other side of the argument. We’ll be round with the flaming torches and a noose to discuss it later 🙂
Paul I have an allotment to grow food for my family not a hobby and I do this because I was made redundant from my job of 28 years. Further more the council do not actually do anything for our allotment society it is run by ourselves as volunteers. The only cost I can see the coucil may incur is for water which I for one would be happy for them to grab back and leave me to collect free rainwater(till they charge for that!)
Thankyou for highlighting this, I have had my plot since june last year and I have been having a wonderful time grow several different veg and I have a sea view to look at after weeding and sowing, which then hopefully feeds the family with fresh veg
I too am outraged about the suggested price rise for allotment plots.It seems that prices vary considerably in different parts of the country.My half plot in Devon was £15.50 for the year starting on the 1st September2010 plus £5.45 for water.The rent has risen by about a £1 a year over the past 3 years.I think this is a very reasonable price and although I would be prepared to pay a bit more I would not pay 300% more.
I use my allotment both as a hobby and to keep fit and also to provide my family with good fresh organic produce.In the past few years we have been persuaded that we all should be growing our own food so why are the councils trying to destroy this.
On my site we get very little for our money apart from the grass paths being cut a few times a year.There is no maintenance at all ,no free compost and no facilities.I asked if we could have a notice board erected but the answer was no.
I just hope that there will be such an outcry that this desperate plan to save money will be shelved.There are plenty of other ways to save money,perhaps they should look closer to home to start with.
Well said John. I have had an allotment since the beginning of 2008, and my grandparents had plots in their time too. Where my site is we are seeing the rent increase over a five year period. Our site has a mix of ‘old timers’ (those who are retired or have had plots for a good number of years), families (many of which are young families my own included), single parent families (often women), and a few individuals. About 3 years before we had our plot you could have taken on two plots, when we got ours we were on a waiting list that rapidly grew, and the council halved standard plots as they became available. At the same time the council services to the site has diminished.
As I understand it this year has seen the waiting lists diminish massively, and aside from the credit crunch I wonder how much this is down to rent increases or whether the fad for allotments is fading round here. I would hate to see any more allotment sites lost to developers.
Allotments are not a grant they are recompense for the lands that were stolen from the peoples of this island. Councils, police, governments etc are not for the benefit of the people they are companies whose job is to raise revenue for its shareholders. For anyone interested find them on Dun and Bradstreet where their business activities are recorded. Remember this the next time a police officer gives you a ticket or the school fines you for not sending your child to school, would you accept this if it was a McDonald’s employee?
Anyhow, after that rant I’ve got to get some leeks out for my dinner, enjoy.
I have a plot in Bexley,London which the council propose to put up by upto 200%-400% in the next 3yrs .As im out of borough the council says that out of borough plotholders cost the council tax payers money.i cant see how as we dont have a police officer patrol the site daily.we dont have our rubbish collected in fact we pay £100 every time we want a skip.we pay our own water rates so the only thing i can think of is that they need to raise the funds for their huge wages and bonuses
@ann.k: You don’t say how much that you are paying now… say that you are paying only £10.00… that at 200%, is only £20.00…. plots that we have in Jersey have just cost £1000,00 each to lay out and to comply with our planning dept. We are charging plot holders £140.00 per 5 rod. After maintenance expenses over the years we will be lucky if it is paid off in thirty years.
We don’t have the privilege of having a council to give us subsidise, we have to do our own thing. How do rate payers over there without plots put up with paying a part of their hard earn’t money for allotments?
Not sure if being self managed is a good thing or not, a few allotment sites in Salford are or have become self managed in recent years. There is talk of our site in Weaste becoming self managed.
The reasoning being is that the site has been much improved in the last 5 years with nearly all plots being worked and a further 30 being added. These were in an area that had fallen in to dis-use due to water-logging. Drains have been put in and 20mm hard core has been put in for the paths to add to drainage. It is still a wet area but should change once the water is drained away over time and people are taking their crops home shifting a bit more water away each time.
Oh the cost of those 30 plots somewhere around 70-100K, nearer the top end from what I have heard. Now are the council going to hand over this site having spent that amount of money? Not sure that they will, they are likely to put the rents up in following years, next year we have an increase of about £5 per year. But given the comprehensive spending review they are likely to put it up further. If the rent goes up much more than it will be out of reach for me if I am still unemployed and many of the older plot holders as well. The very people allotments were set up for and those that did not have gardens (that’s me again).
However being self managed means we can raise our own funds, use the money collected on site for plots to invest in the plot holders rather than administration. One other site which is self managed so far still has the council paying the water rates for them, suspect we will not be so lucky but watch this space.
We now have a keen collective of growers, who get together for social events and looking to improve the site for all. Up to the point of the 30 new plots being brought back into use the council did nothing on the site. So now it is time I think for us to cut loose and run….anyhow off to the allotment shortly to find out more about being self-managed.
Thanks for recognising that I was trying to put the contrary argument, I do sympathise with the views of everyone else. I too come from a family of allotmenteers going back at least as far as my Great Grandfather. I was trying to explain what is going on inside of local authorities just now so that people may understand why these huge increases are happening. In the past local councils weren’t looking for every possible opportunity to raise revenue, now they are. Of course I would take a different view if I was made redundant, that’s why I suggested people on benefits should be offered subsidised rents. I agree that golf isn’t often put forward as having beneficial effects, swimming is, and I often see families doing that, and it costs around £10 for a family at my local leisure centre.
I can only speak as I find and everyone I know on my plot is a hobby gardener rather than doing it from necessity and £3 a week for a hobby seems cheap to me. I used to be into classic cars (cheap ones) and rented a council lock up. That cost me £420 a year when I gave it up four years ago and the council spent precisely nothing on maintenance in the 8 years I had it. Of couse I would be very happy if my plot cost me £50 a year instead of £150 and if it got a lot more expensive I would have to think hard abot continuing. I’m sorry if I made you feel ready to seek me out with a noose and burning torches but I don’t think this is a totally one sided argument.
I have just aquired an allotment which i have been seeking for about 1year but there was no mention of an increse in fee it sounds like i got a bargain at £12.00 yr. I had an allotment elswhere which had footpaths and interferance all the time for £15.00 yr (nothing more annoying than someone else picking your veg). But i have to say that Paul is right there are two sides to the story and personaly i do not belive the councils give a hoot to what we think and they will do what ever they want twist the law not break the law, but they seem to bend it just right when they want with expensive lawyers we pay for ? absolute madness ?and worst of all the person whom decides will probably get a great big bonus !!! But i belive in unity if we stand as a group instead of individuals we stand more chance of being heard so aproaching a local council in a group is more formidibal aspecialy at voting time ?
In response to Paul and his suggestion that people on benefits should get a reduced rate. My husband and I both work full time in hard demanding jobs, have never claimed a benfit in our lives and although I appreciate that some people genuinely have to claim benefits, there are far more who simply get too many benefits and cant be bothered to work. We enjoy our allotment enormously and work hard on it, but I dont see why us tax payers should subsidise hobbies for those people who cant be bothered to work, when we already subsidise their lifestyle. Their time would be better spent seeking a job, not working an allotment. I mean no offence to those who are on retirement benefits and who have a genuine reason for claiming benefits, but our allotment is rented from the local authority and cost us £20 this year, equating to approx 40p a week and we always get a footnote on the bottom of our bill to advise what the rent for next year is going up by and I am glad to say that ours is only a very small increase for 2012, surely this is an affordable option for any person on any income, even the lowest of benefits!!
Just pondering this whole issue further, especially the “conspiracy theory” argument. I can well believe that theory in areas where allotment land has the potential to be valuable for development. I am reliably informed that the owner of my private plot would rather have sold it for development but it is held in trust by his estate and the trustees would not allow it to be sold. That left him with a long, narrow length of overgrown former smallholding of little commercial value. He took what is almost certainly a sound business decision that it would maximise his return to divide it into allotments at £75 per half plot. With the added benefit that we would do all the clearance and soil improvement that would enhance its value. To be fair he is a very decent chap and I’m sure he had community interests as well as commercial in his mind when he made his decision.
A while ago I read an article about Detroit. It was until quite recently a prosperous city at the heart of the US motor industry. That has slowly collapsed over the last 30 years. The traditional rememdy of pouring $billions of public money in to “regenerate” the economy failed and many once prosperous midddle class neigbourhoods (never mind the inner city) were abandoned and the properties became derelict and worthless. The whole city was massively de-populated (I can’t remember the figures but it was a huge percentage). A few years ago the city officials actually admitted they would never regenerate the city in its old form and decided to demolish many of the worthless abandoned buildings and return suburbs to farmland and what are effectively allotments (I think they are called community gardens in the US). The result is that whilst there are still many poor and unemployed they can at least grow their own food and hundreds of derelict buildings have gone. The whole city has taken on a new character.
I’m quite a newcomer to allotments and perhaps this kind of thing is going on here but it seems to me to be a novel and exciting approach. Rather than fight councils over valuable land perhaps we should bow to the ineviatable and instead look at unwanted land or land of such low commercial value that it would offer a better return if let as moderately priced allotments (like mine). I now expect howls of protest from people who have put years of effort into working an established plot, and I understand the heartbreak that would ensue if it was lost and am not suggesting that there shouldn’t be a fight for them. What I am saying is maybe the future supply of reasonably priced plots lies in another direction.
Supply and demand, that is the bottom line in a capitalist society. Everyone that wants an allotment probably has no suitable garden so most are not rolling in cash if on an allotment. A fair price probably encourages people that are serious about gardening and that will make full use of the plot for production of food and flowers. As long as the facilities on an allotment are maintained and improved then the costs should reflect that but it is right for councils to subsidise allotments to encourage this activity that benefits the World’s health and local health. How much councils should subsidise this activity is the question I reckon 50:50 or 60:40 council or 70:30 council would be almost acceptable. I reckon retired people and people that are unwell in some way and that gardening will help make better should be given a further discount as this helps society to keep people healthy. If the allotments become so pricey that nobody wants them and then they use the land to develop on then that would be criminal and the councillors involved in doing that should be locked up or at least given ASBOS. As with everything the minimum wage that Labour introduced is in fact something Labour are proud of and they still shout about it but it is something that has caused massive inflation and I believe wages should not be set by government but should be based on the amount an employer is offering and the amount a worker is willing to accept as this is the only way to keep costs down. It is better for all if wages are less and the cost of goods and services all round are less – the minimum wage has brought us to a position where wages are high but the cost of living is also much higher. Artificial wages meddling from government and this is what happens – allotments go up in price and its the tip of the iceberg – and I don’t mean anything to do with lettuce but more to do with the Titanic.
In reply to people who keep comparing allotments to swimming pools and other council run centres.
lets just take a swimming pool.requires heating,cleaning, permanent life guards, telephone, maintenance contractors,cleaners,lighting,office furniture,office staff,fire alarms, sprinkler systems,etc etc.
Now take our allotment plots self run and financed by the rents no paid staff,no telephone free maintenance labour supplied by allotmenterrs ,no heating, no water bill as paid by a extra charge on rent. removal of rubbish paid for out of rents or by allotmenterrs . I wont go on and on but where is the comparison?
My wife and I also work very hard full time, the allotment is a huge boon to us and provides relaxation and family time, not to mention the produce.
It seems that I’m damned whatever I say! If I say that higher rents are probably inevitable I’m pilloried for ignoring the plight of the unemployed, low paid and pensioners, if I say that there should be concessions to those “on benefits” (to encompass those groups) I’m suggesting that scroungers should be given lower rents! I can’t see that people who are too lazy to seek work would be up for the work involved in an allotment anyway, so it is probably a non-argument. The point about comparisons to swimming pools etc. wasn’t mine in the first place. Someone else offered it as an argument to fight rent increases. My point was that it was a dangerous line to follow.
There seem to be two lines of debate here; one is those who see allotments as an historical right and one that should be protected and only let on low rents. An argument I understand but don’t think easy to sustain. The others are those who see it broadly as a leisure activity and, whilst regretting huge and inexplicable rent hikes, are willing to concede that it isn’t unreasonable to compare the costs to other such activities. The vitriol seems to stem from those who confuse the two and think that a leisure activity should be available to them at a very low cost, whatever their means are. It may be that as most of us (excluding bankers and media tycoons) get worse off, either marginally or majorly if we are made redundant or retire that the former argument comes to the fore again. At present it seems to me that you are very fortunate if you have a reasonable income and can pursue a leisure activity at very low cost, in some cases less than the that of a round of drinks.
Well you can plonk me firmly in the “see allotments as an historical right and one that should be protected and only let on low rents” camp. Especially as gardens have shrunk and shrunk over the years. The newer the house the smaller the garden.
I’m currently shaking the tree with my local council over an 18% rent increase, reason given ‘we are bringing in line with other neighbouring councils (all labour run)’ my questions are;
1) if the increases have to happen, why not do it over a set number of years
2) if the increases have to happen, why not have the facility to pay over a number of months
3) do other leisure activities have the same level of increase (arguments above noted)
With regards to concessions, yes pensioners should have a nominal rent, but benefits are paid to ensure that a person has the minimum to allow them to live. Should benefit money be used on only anything but the essentials? Please note this is by to means a dig at anyone unfortunate to be unemployed and on benefits (yes i have been there). I don’t want to be discriminated against because i work.
It is never easy to offer an opinion that will not upset some one, and circumstances differ as much as opinion the idea of allotments stemmed from back in the early part of the industrial revolution when Men folk would spend most of their meagre income in the ale houses and already poverty stricken families would suffer even more, ( most folk lived in terraced houses, with yards and NO gardens, long since gone in slum clearances ) not sure if it was government driven alone or the temperance movement helped but the allotments served to get folk out of the ale houses and on to the land and allow healthy food to be grown for the poorer end of the social scale where life expectancy was lower than now by some way, the class divide was greater with the middle and upper class able to afford a better standard of living and even employ folk to grow their food for them . things have come a long way since those days but councils are still obliged to provide allotments if enough people want them based on the same principles although I am still happy to consider myself working class I am by no means willing to consider myself in the same boat as my great grandfathers generation ( He had a plot ) He rairly as the saying went,” had two brass farthings to rub together” and no land/garden to grow food on to suppliment his meagre earnings from the pit. so an allotment at a low rent was a blessing.
I work and have a good income and a decent garden layed to lawn, but also an allotment where i work hard to grow good healthy produce for my family and there families and to give myself some productive excersise and to teach my grandkids about food and where it comes from .
I do not mind paying what ammounts to less than the cost of a pint a week for this plot, and hear we go with the bit that will upset some folk, I would not mind paying a little more IF it meant a pensioner paying a little less , or some person enduring hardship for whatever reason paying a little less .
The only thing I can not agree with , is paying more and more when none of the money raised goes back in to providing/maintaining the allotment sites.
It would appear that the biggest problem is the speed at which the rents have gone up over such a short period of time ( I remember when the price of a cup of tea at the local bowling club went up from 5p to 10 p all in one go , and some folk drank water for months in protest ( and it was not that long ago ! ))
I am a Parish Councillor and a member of our PC working group on allotments which, amongst other things, is presently considering the rents we charge for our allotments.
We have 3 sites the cost of running which is for the present year estimated to be £4,250.
The rental income that we anticipate receiving next year (having just made a 25% increase on this years rents) is £1,875.
To cover our – that is the ratepayers – costs we would need to increase the rents on 2 of the sites by a further 50% and on the third site to 3x the present level (sounds odd but historical reasons for the disparity).
I don’t think we will do that, at least not in one go, but why shouldn’t we? Why should allotment holders be subsidised by the general ratepayer? Perhaps someone would like to reply and make the case.
@Paul Froggitt: Simply for the historical reasons for allotments. They form compensation to the dispossessed urbanites who lost their land. However you may feel about that, consider the social benefits of allotments and their inclusiveness that reduces social tensions or the health benefits.
Your question ” Why should allotment holders be subsidised by the general ratepayer? ” is equally applicable to many things. Why should I pay to educate your child? Why should I pay for hospitals and doctors when I don’t need them (today at least!) It’s because we have a society.
I hope I still have an open mind on the subject of whether my PC should or should not increase allotment rents and that is why I posted to try to obtain some views. For the moment, however, I will play Devil’s Advocate in answer to your comment.
There may well be areas of the country where having an allotment is a necessity but I am lucky enough to live in an affluent area and, although I can’t pretend to know the personal circumstances of all of our 70ish allotment holders, I would be amazed if any of them were at subsistence level.
All of the allotment holders that I know do gardening as a leisure activity so in judging whether the ratepayer should subsidise their plots I would not compare their situation to that of the provision of hospitals and schools. I would ask why should anyone with a hobby of gardening be subsidised any more than someone who chooses to play golf or go fishing or go to the cinema as their leisure activity?
@Paul Froggitt: Possibly hospitals and schools are more vital but allotments do serve an important social function and make a proven contribution to the mental health of plotholders.
You say you’d be amazed if any (of your) plotholders were at subsistence level; we’re currently facing the most challenging economic times for a long time. Unemployed, retired on fixed or falling incomes are rising and those in work finding their budget stretched.
Personally, I’ve never considered my vegetable growing a hobby so much as a way of contributing to our self-sufficient aims and reducing the food bill. The increasing cost of food makes GYO more vital than ever.
I’d hate to see a great national tradition turned into a money making venture for councils and private business with the plots becoming the preserve of the well to do.
Thanks for the further response. I am wholly in agreement with you on one point and that is that the increasing cost of food makes it vital that allotment land (and indeed food growing land in general) is retained and not concreted over.
There is no suggestion that my Parish Council are planning to anything other than retain, and possibly even expand, our existing sites. Unfortunately the same cannot be said of the District Council in our area which has recently sold off allotments for housing.
I think the outcome of our deliberations (with my knowledge of the views of other councillors) is likely to be that we will not increase rents – at least not by any substantial amount – but it useful to gather as many views as possible.
@Paul Froggitt: One other point I should have made – allotments in towns and cities do provide green breathing space. Paving over that space with housing further increases density and reduces the quality of the environment. If an allotment site was unused then it would be better to make it a park than yet more houses.
Glad to hear you’re not proposing to increase rents unreasonably 🙂
As a coincidental postscript to my recent posts about rents here is a true story.
Recently a potential tenant came to see a vacant plot on the site where I have my allotment. After chatting for a while about allotments in general and the rules and regs. she asked what the rent was. We told her £15. She said that was fine and she would rent the plot.
We carried on chatting about this and that and the subject of rent came up again. She suddenly exclaimed “You mean £15 a year? I thought you meant £15 a month!”
Illustrative of something or other – I’ll leave you to decide what.
Eaton Lands Allotment
We have just been sent our annual fee for our allotment. Last year we paid £42.00 for an 8.55 perch allotment area. The fee this year has risen to £85.00, over 100%.
Four years ago we were paying £22.00 and in 2010 it rose to £42.00. Almost another 100% The whole thing has become a joke and the local council are exploiting the situation with impunity.
What was once an enjoyable and affordable occupation is now turning into a worrisome expense.
Our local council have recently carried out a review of allotment rents as they realized that their rental income was not covering their costs. They contacted the NSALG for assistance who provided a cheerful gentleman who enthusiastically pointed out all sorts of services that they should be budgeting for (such as grass cutting, annual skip hire, hedge and fence maintenance etc. irrespective of whether they actually perform all of these services at the 3 sites they run). They have now produced a budget based on his oh so helpful recommendations covering the 3 sites and we are looking at a 300% increase over a 5 year period. This will give them roughly a £12000 surplus over the same time span plus extra funds they will garner from services budgeted for but not provided. The man from the NSALG helpfully suggested that we form an association instead and run ourselves to avoid these charges. This feels like coercion and the NSALG has encouraged the council to set a profit making budget at our expense although our fees are still reasonable compared to many (a plot was £17.35 last year rising to £33 this year and £53.81 by 2016. I should add that the land was gifted to the council many years ago for the purpose of providing allotments. These are not extortionate rates but the profit margin seems over generous to me – what does any one else think?
Check out the links below to read about people who have beat the allotment rent increase
I feel really sorry for people that need allotments to help with the rising costs of fruit and veg. I do it for a hobby but lots do it out of a genuine need.
I’m afraid the only reason they are raising the costs is with the hope that people bow out and then the councils can sell off the grounds to rich developers.
so lets hope our pensioners and others with genuine needs can hang in there and pay the cost so we can continue to give Pensioners the only outside activity that many of them have.
You might be interested in the successful outcome we had at Hill Rise Allotment Association in St Ives over our battle with the Town Council over allotment rent increases. The link below sows the approach we took with lots of up to date supporting info. Hope it helps other allotment holders. Here’s the link…