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GOSPORT BOROUGH COUNCIL
SERVICES OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE
ALLOTMENTS WORKING GROUP
(Councillors Clinton, M Russell and Train)
BOROUGH-WIDE REVIEW OF
18 FEBRUARY 2004
Purpose of scrutiny
The Working Group was set up by the Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee to carry out a Borough-wide review of allotments.
Purpose of this public meeting
Part of the Working Group's information gathering process was to hear the views of the allotment holders and the community on any issues of concern, such as the management of the sites, security facilities, promotion of vacant plots, access, parking etc.
Councillor Train chaired the meeting and Councillors Clinton and M Russell were also present. Several other Councillors attended as observers.
There were 11 members of the public, including the Chairman of the Gosport Allotments Holders and Gardeners Association, who shared their concerns and experiences with the Working Group and assembled public.
Summarised below are the main points that were raised during the meeting. The Working Group will take these matters into account as part of the Borough-wide review of allotments when considering their recommendations and final report to the Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee later this year.
The Working Group thanked all those who attended.
VIEWS AND COMMENTS FROM THE MEETING
There was support for improved security to boundaries of the sites.
. Speakers requested replacement fencing and for security locks to be placed on sheds and all gates.
. There was concern over duplicate keys being copied generally, and at Camden in particular.
. Work carried out by contractors should be agreed on commencement and inspected during and on completion by Gosport Borough Council.
Access for the disabled
Ensure that allotment facilities are available to all by adapting sites for use
by the disabled and those less mobile
. Great concern was expressed by one allotment holder whose wheelchair bound husband would like to accompany her but was unable to because of unsafe pathways
Children and the future
Allotments are a valuable asset and if sufficient children's interest was
generated this could secure future use
. The Caretaker at a local school regularly showed children around the allotment site to generate interest
. It was suggested that schools should be encouraged to manage some plots as part of the school curriculum.
Site improvements and unoccupied/untended plots
Requests for GBC to clear vacant plots to encourage new plot
. Re-allocate vacant plots more quickly to avoid untended plots and reduce weed and seed migration to cultivated plots
. Control height of grass during the growing season
. Request for Councillors to investigate why use of wood chipping was no longer permitted
. Some pathways were narrow and unsafe, some were being encroached upon by neighbouring plot holders
. Improve the water systems generally and in particular at Camden and Elson
. Provision of skips on a regular basis
Funding and costs
There was support for the reduction in GBC admin costs
. Any increase in rents was felt to be generally too high for the vast majority of pensioners
. Suggested there be a discount for long serving plot holders and concessionary rate for pensioners although subsidy by Council Tax payers should not be expected.
. There was concern over the length of time taken to be provided with a breakdown of allotment costs from Leisure, GBC
. Councillors confirmed that a breakdown of costs would be published in their final report later in the year
. It was questioned as to how much of the income received from the sale of Camden site would be used to make improvements to allotments?
(The Working Group were unable to answer to this question as the matter would be explored by the relevant Council Board)
Allotment Holders' organisations
. There was support for the Gosport Allotment Holders' Association to run the allotments although this was not the general consensus.
Planning matters and site status
It was requested that Elson site be made permanent; this issue would be investigated
. There was concern about allotment land being earmarked for other purposes, ie car parking for the SHRT at Rectory and land at Brockhurst to be used for a cemetery.
There had been some difficulties relating to badgers at the Brockhurst
. Badgers were protected by the Countryside and Wildlife Act and could only be moved at certain times of the year
Communication and moving forward
Councillors emphasised the importance of effective communication between all
parties during the review process
. Councillors were anxious to work together with GBC officers and the allotment holders to improve the allotments
. Payment of rent was available on-line although a telephone call had to be made to get instructions
. A 5 year structure plan for the allotments was suggested
There was support for Wardens to be reinstated with a 'voting-in' system
. Park Rangers were only available during working hours [i.e 9am-5pm Mon-Fri]
. No response had been received despite repeated requests for an individual to become a Warden
. A new Warden was required at Brockhurst
Suggestions for advertising, promotion and regeneration of allotment gardening
The Allotment Holders and Gardeners Association suggested producing a
. Publish information on the GBC website
. Welcome packs for new tenants
. Suggestion boxes on all sites, with suggestions collected regularly
. Free sites for those on benefits
. Concessions for senior citizens
. Allotment allocation forms to be kept in the site sheds
. Re-allocate vacant plots more quickly
. Recognition for longstanding plot holders - one plot holder had tended a plot for 45 years and another had been a plot holder in the Borough since 1948!!!
. Allotments should not be allowed to deteriorate as they maintained gene banks and also helped to provide a remedy for obesity, promoting exercise and healthy eating
. Provision of electricity, so that plot holders could use their own tools
. Provision of rotavaters, although there were insurance implications if used by plot holders
Reading, Research and suggestions
Include allotments in the Borough's Community Strategy Partnership document
. DETR Government report; 'Growing in the Community - A Good Practice Guide to Allotments' available for purchase, a good starting point for research
. LGA report relating to allotments
. Allotment Regeneration Scheme
. Local Agenda 21/Community Planning
. Towards a Better Future' a 41 page report by the Gosport Allotment Holders
. A more effective audio system was requested at the Town Hall as the audience had difficulty in hearing those speaking
. A larger hall would be needed for a future meeting
The allotment holders thanked the Council for inviting them to this meeting and the Working Group indicated that a further meeting to progress the review was probable.
'WORKING TOGETHER TO IMPROVE OUR ALLOTMENTS'