Allotments on Ebay

I was reading that Maidenhead has come up with scheme to auction off new allotments on Ebay. Their scheme is to produce 14 allotments out of a council owned piece of grazing land.

Each plot will have an integral shed, small greenhouse and a water tank (shared between two plots) and the ground will be fully prepared so new tenants can get growing as soon as they move in.

All the allotments will be auctioned on Ebay (to borough residents only) with a reserve price of £300 a year for each of the 12 which will be 150m2 and £150 for each of the remaining two of 75m2. At least 50% of the allotments will be reserved for bidders who are already on the Maidenhead allotment waiting list.

I’m amazed at the tone of their press release – like this is something to be proud of. Cllr Simon Dudley, Cabinet Member for Adult and Community Services, said the project was a positive step towards fulfilling a manifesto pledge to provide new allotments across the borough.

OK, lets just take a step back and think about this.

  • The original purpose of allotments was to provide land for the poor to grow food on to feed their families. OK, nobody is starving in the UK nowadays but allotments have always been rented below the market value of the land. Compensation for lack of land, urban deprivation.
  • One of the beauties of allotments has to be their recycle, re-used, higgledy-piggledy constructions as sheds and greenhouses. Lack of that drab uniformity that French allotments enjoy.
  • The traditional plot size is 10 rods or 250 M2
  • Waiting lists are the fair way to allocate scarce resources like allotments
  • Most allotments run between £40 & £80 per plot, per annum.
  • Rents are fixed – everyone pays them same except for those with a discount due to being unwaged or retired etc.
  • Not everyone has access to the internet and a facility with using Ebay.

This scheme is so against the whole ethos of allotments in all those ways. Buy your way off the waiting list – a disgrace. Rather than providing plots for the disadvantaged, let’s give them to those who can pay the most.

We’re all used to being taxed and local government inefficiencies but now it seems they’re screwing us worse than the utility companies. What’s next? An auction for those wanting their bins collecting? The best state schools to the highest bidder? Need a kidney, how much are you willing to bid?


Posted in Rants and Raves
14 comments on “Allotments on Ebay
  1. Jimmy Coyle says:

    Is this the final take over of allotments by the chattering classes?

  2. TW says:

    Niave to expect anything else from a “flagship” Conservative local authority.

  3. Tim says:

    But you have to ask, would this land be made into allotments if they weren’t raising money from the auction?

    Still makes me uneasy, though.

  4. John says:

    Tim – that may be true but this destroys the whole ethos of allotments. I put it in the same category as auctioning social housing. Can you imagine the reaction to that?

  5. anit says:

    That’s disgraceful. Allotments should be for those with no gardens as a a minimum. Those with a spare few hundred for allotments are normally those with a house and a garden already. … but we should all have one if we need one anyway. being in touch with nature helps us all connect with this planet.

  6. Suzie says:

    What’s in a name? If the council had said it was auctioning leisure gardens as an amenity rather than allotments would it have attracted the same comments? What if this is a way of subsidising real allotments, would it b acceptable then?

  7. Peter Mears says:

    I’ve had an allotment for nearly 40 years and I’ve seen these cycles come and go many times. At the moment, due to many factors but mainly through people not realising that allotments are very labour intensive/ damn hard work, they’re seen as the trendy thing to have at the moment. Everyone thinks that a few hours here and there will be adequate to produce a super abundant, immaculate showpiece, as exempified by Joe Swift’s allotment travesty on Gardeners World a couple of years ago.

    Let anyone who is gullible enough put in their bids and win, I suggest the sensible folk hold fire a couple of years for when allotments become unfashionable again – they may well then pay you to take them off their hands !

  8. Joy McCarthy says:

    And what happens the next year? Do they go back to eBay and start again? Typical local authority madness, I suspect, and the desire to make money without putting up the council tax.

  9. jimmy coyle says:

    Peter great comment. The number of those who are so determined to have an allotment start up petitions write to newspapers/Councils/Councillors etc then think that all you do is put some seeds on the ground and return in 6/8/12 weeks as that is when the veg will be ready as it states so on the packet!

  10. Pierre says:

    I would question how this sits with the Authority’s Community Plan, and also where it sits with the Equalities Act 2010, if not speficically in law then within the spirit of the act that “prohibits unfair treatment … when providing goods, facilities and services, when exercising public functions, in the disposal and management of premises, … (and) by associations.

    Having said this, at a time when local authorities are under huge pressure to cut costs, the costs of preparing the site, supplying sheds and greenhouses, and ensuring health and safety will have been factored into the ‘reserve price’ and I’m sure if you look at it that way, £300 is cheap.

    I’m the sort of allotmenter that would rather build a shed or greenhouse out of anything I can find lying around or out of a skip – but liability and claims culture being what it is, the costs of providing brand new equipment won’t have been cheap for them.

    I would at the very least have assumed this local authority has undertaken a consultation exercise with local people and interested parties prior to taking this course of action.

  11. Richard says:

    I have had two allotments in the past. One when I had no garden, and the other when I moved to a front garden only. On my subsequent move, I handed my allotment keys back. Regretfully, yes but I couldnt conscience the possession of two perfectly good arable areas. I like to think that we can keep the spirit of home growth going in this manner. Auctioning them is elitist and will attract those who have no specific interest in the longer term.

  12. TW says:

    “Auctioning them is elitist”

    Why? Those of above average intellectual ability always want allotments, by definition.

    Unless you mean “Auctioning them excludes these who can’t afford to pay high prices” in which case I agree.

  13. Alistair says:


    I had to actually read the article twice to actually believe they were actually planning this.
    In our village, the local house builder has provided some land(possible forced into it by the parish) to provide additional allotments as the site at one end of the village is full.

    Councils seem to forget they are public servants there to provide a service to the community, not there to try and auction off parts of the community to the highest bidder. Sadly, all politians are the same, they talk the talk to get you to vote then once in power, decide THEY know best when making decisions.

  14. Jan B says:

    Oh John how I agree with your rant. I have only just joined your site and am enjoying it so very much. We pay £63.50 p.a. for a full plot in Bristol. The LA allows reductions for those on reduced incomes and our Association gives 50% discount to long-standing members (over 25 years) – and we have many! The LA runs an Allotment Group composed of reps from all sites in the City but only 1 from our Association (we have 8 sites with 500 members). This group has tried to suggested that there should no longer be any reductions for pensioners or low waged – the reason ? – the group is now made of a majority of younger members of the ‘chattering classes’ who have moved into the City. Our Association has been in existence since 1914 with sites on the poorer side of the city (was old mining area) and as I mentioned – many longstanding members. We have also been told now by the LA landloards that we can only give new plotsholders half plots – this is to keep their waiting lists down! I could rant on but better to take it out on something more constructive!

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