After a couple of kind visitors to the web site emailed me to alert me to the threat to allotments the government review of local authorities duties posed, I sent out an alert to my newsletter and wrote this article here: Allotment Threat – Act Now!
The threat was initially picked up, I believe, by NSALG and more helpful information was posted by Hollin Lane Allotments web site. The point was that the consultation period ended on 25th April 2011 and I wanted everyone to act before the end of that.
Come the 27th April (2 days after the deadline for consultation) it was picked up by the Mirror newspaper in an article and this morning, 1st May, in an exclusive (??? really) the Independent on Sunday is running the story!
Well, I’ll run my own ‘exclusive’ news story for you today. I had an email and a comment on my initial article which said
“Interestingly in the hidden column J on the spreadsheet DCLG Statutory duties on the review of statutory duties website , the following comment appears:
‘Given very high and increasing local demand for allotments – latest reports are of 100,000 on waiting lists for 300,000 allotment plots (not including data in respect of Parish and Town Councils, which is not available) DCLG and relevant stakeholders, including ODGs, have taken the view to date that legislation to support the provision of allotment sites and meet local demand is robust and should remain in tact – so on this basis we deem this is ‘Essential to keep’ at the current time”
It would be foolish to assume our allotment heritage is 100% safe but it certainly appears that the reviewing body realises scrapping the obligation on local authorities to provide allotments would be a huge mistake.
Politicians in the government are bound to be aware of the strength of feeling that attaches to allotments, especially now some of the national press has, somewhat late, got onto the bandwagon. It can’t do any harm in the long term to keep allotments in the politician’s view.
To sum up – I think we’re safe for now but if you are a politician – be warned, messing with our plots can seriously harm your re-election prospects.
thanks for the update. glad to hear the threats on allotments is over, for now. : )
..you know I have been really worried about this, I hope the allotments are safe as they are a part of the British way of life and with the government saying that they need to tackle obesity..getting rid of the allotments is not a brilliant idea (I’ve lost 8 lb this year so far without really trying)…it would also affect wildlife as we’re all growing bee friendly plants and leaving pathways for badgers on our site…also this would not be good news for polytunnel/shed suppliers and seed sellers…not to mention the mental health problems that are alleviated by being on the plot…I’ve talked to a few people today and there is strong support even amongst the non- allotmenteers to protect our allotments…x
John, I responded to yur original mail about the threat, and hope many others did too. What was interesting was that no one else on my allotment site was aware of the review. Coincidentally, though we received a nice colour newsletter from our council giving an update on their allotments. Now, it was nice seeing this in colour, and was quite extensive, but essentially it was a reminder of the requirements for plot holders, improvements recently undertaken and planned, and also some changes in place, and planned for future.
Aside from an appearance to toughen up on tenants who do not keep their plot in good order, I did notice that they were looking in the future to remove their obligation for site maintenance, making it responsible for the tenants i.e. maintain boundaries, access roadways, etc. This on top of the planned large scale rent increases too over the next few years! I wonder is this unique to my local authority, or is this the norm for authorities, or in line with changes that maybe other authorities are looking to implement?
Paul & John
In answer to maintenance on site i.e. cutting of pathways between plots, maintaining road, etc is part of our contracts but the council has stopped doing it.
They do less and less and hence why our site is considering self management.
On the was anyone else awhere at our site yes our allotment group secretary got a notice from the allotment association 3 days before the deadline.
Which left little time to do anything about it or to pass the message on. This however if the site was self managed could change, if the secretary had the mobile numbers and/or emails of all plot holders and kept that up to date.
They could send out a text message and/or email to all group members in such cases and get a fast turnaround.
She was not impressed with the time frame but did mention it to me, as we were talking about the paths and how they are not cut anymore even though it is the responsibility of the council.
Whilst I may or may not think that self management is a good thing, others think it will form a clique, there already is one, the upside is that such things as maintaince and what we do on the site opens up fund raising opportunities for all the plot holders there are pluses and minuses.
But I for one think we have more to gain, I for one have limited resources and could do with help in some areas that is what would happen on a self managed site. As we all benefit…..there are knock on affects to the environment, do we all have to have a lawn mower push type or petrol just to clip our boundaries? Such a waste of resources when we could have shared tools or equipment and perhaps a dedicated person to cut the grass.
There are peeps there I know who would do it……if rents go up as we all suspect then I for one would have to think about if I wished to retain my allotment plot?
I dont believe the threat is over, just becuase there was a hidden comment saying allotments are essential in the original list provided by government. Look at the latest list on the government website
This hidden comment has now been removed. Was it placed there to reduce the number of complaints?
Also, the ‘consultation’ ran for 6 weeks – NSLAG werent told about it until 15th April, 4 weeks into the consultation and couldnt properly inform members in time to get maximum feedback ( in fact they have only contacted a limited number of their members since they dont hold membership details of everyone on allotments just one nominated contact ). If they didn’t know about it from the start of the consultation then the whole ‘consultation’ is floored and should be repeated.
Furthermore, the list under consultation doesn’t seem to be a full list of statutory duties, our local council confirmed there are several thousand statutory duties. They also confirmed that they didnt know the consultation was being completed. If the council dont know about a consultation process for their own statutory laws then why should anyone else know?
If people dont know about a time limited consultation then the whole process is either floored or deliberately kept at a low profile to claim a consultation process has been completed, while makes me very suspicious of the process.
Has the government actually stated now that they will not repeal or amend Small Holdings and Allotments Act 1908 Section 23 ? The answer is no as far as I can see, in which case it is still under consideration, its still on the revised list after removal of the hidden comment – why if the comment said it was essential to keep?
I urge all allotment holders to write to their MP and demand that this essential law to protect allotment provision in the UK is kept, and even strengthened, and for the replies to be posted back into this forum for everyone to see.
Come on people, dont let apathy ruin allotment gardening for future generations, its time to act, now.
Use this link to find and write to your MP and provide feedback on here as to what they say?
Just checked NSALG website – looks like the panic is over for now with regard the abolition of the Small Holdings Act 1908 Section 23! People Power!
That’s great news! Thanks for the update John.
The comments I’ve seen so far, including those on the NSALG website, suggest that statutory allotment protection will not be repealed or amended. Statutory protection of sites comes under the 1926 act which requires the Secretary of State’s permission for a change of use of an allotment site. However, the item that has been identified for review doesn’t relate to the actual statutory protection of sites but the necessity of council’s to provide an adequate number of plots to meet local demand. I haven’t seen anyone say that this isnt still under review? Ive asked my MP who also is having to go back to the secretary of state to get some clarity, that was after the commons statement on the NSALG website. Not quite over yet !
Statutory Review Update
The following information is from the Department for Communities and Local Government website:
Published 1 May 2011
The Department responds to the claim in the Independent on Sunday that the review of local government’s statutory duties could threaten the future of allotments.
A spokesperson for the Department for Communities and Local Government said:
“This is simply untrue we will not remove statutory protections for allotments or any frontline services. However the Government is reviewing old and unnecessary duties imposed on councils in order to free them up from Whitehall red tape and as part of this we have published the full list of duties which includes allotments.”
In Prime Minister’s Question Time on 4th May 2011:
Mike Gapes (Ilford South) (Lab/Co-op): More than 100 years ago, Parliament legislated to make sure that local authorities provided allotments. Healthy local food is a very good part of good British values. Why therefore are the Prime Minister’s Government scrapping the obligation on local authorities to provide allotments?
The Prime Minister: I was as concerned as the hon. Gentleman when I read that report. I immediately checked, and found that that is not the case. It is extremely important that allotments are made available. Many Members will find that when they ask about that in their constituencies there are massive queues for allotments, as many people want to grow their own vegetables and food and understand more about where food comes from. It is a great movement, and it has my full support.
Just received this email update from the ‘burdens’ team in government, looks like allotments are safe and councils are still required to provide them 🙂 :
“Thank you for your recent email about the review of statutory duties placed on local government.
Until now, there has been no comprehensive list of the legal duties placed on councils. To remedy this, the Government agreed with the Local Government Association (the national body representing councils) that such a list should be compiled so that everyone is clear what legal obligations local councils have and check whether the duties are still relevant.
There is no implication that any particular duty on the list is being considered for removal. The review is as much about ensuring vital duties are retained as it is about removing unnecessary burdens. Any changes to statutory duties which come about as a result of the review will subsequently be properly considered and consulted on where necessary.
The Government will not remove statutory protections for allotments or vital frontline services and, as such, there is no intention to remove local authorities’ statutory duties to provide allotments or to remove the requirement for local authorities to seek the Secretary of State’s agreement to use statutory allotments for other purposes.
Statutory Duties Review Team “
I have also just received the above e-mail. Let’s hope they mean what they say and leave our allotments alone/
“The government will not remove statutory protections…”
How could they anyway? Would that not rather be a matter to be “properly considered” in Parliament?