Government review sparks allotment fears in Norwich

Gardeners across Norwich have pledged to fight any proposals which remove the obligation of parish and town councils to provide allotments.

Concern has spread throughout the city's green-fingered community that provision of the coveted outdoor facilities could fall into private hands following a recent review by the government which asked local authorities to identify which statutory duties they see as a burden in a bid to banish red tape.

But despite a clarification from the Department for Communities and Local Government this week that regulations regarding allotments would be protected, allotment holders have said they are readying themselves to oppose any changes which may affect their future provision in light of a soaring demand for plots.

Norwich City councillor Peter Offord, of the Green Party, who waited 18 months to acquire an allotment at Elm Grove, said: 'Allotments are a vital part of the fabric of local communities. They are a community asset, have proven health benefits and provide a practical way to supplement individual and family nutrition, enhance health and well-being and in addition provide a strong social function.'

Norwich City Council currently provides more than 1,600 allotments across 18 sites, but about 700 people remain on waiting lists.

Flo Harrison, secretary of the Bluebell Model Gardens Allotment Association, whose members have plots at The Avenues, said: 'As far as we know the waiting list at the Bluebell site is getting on for two years.

'Demand is very high and we definitely think it's very important that councils make provision for allotments.'