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.
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?