Norwich allotment holders’ call for review of the service rejected

Norwich City Council will extend the consulation period for changes to allotment rules. Picture: Den

Norwich City Council will extend the consulation period for changes to allotment rules. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: copyright: Archant 2014

Council chiefs have rejected a call from allotment holders to review the management of the service after they raised a series of concerns about recent changes.

Margaret Todd of the Norwich Allotment Association (NAA) told last night's meeting of Norwich City Council that it was formed because of three major changes.

She said these were the increase in rents in October 2013, a 'sudden change of enforcement practice', which she said had see a sizeable proportion of tenants being given notice, and concerns that the half-size plots offered to new tenants could lead to that becoming the normal size by default.

She said: 'While these three changes have led to a high turnover and a reduction in the very long waiting list, we are concerned that a growing number of tenants are losing heart and giving up because the allotment regime is becoming too restrictive.

'Many feel their allotment is no longer a peaceful retreat when they are fearful of an inspection.'

Ms Todd told councillors she was concerned about a current consultation on proposed changes to the rules which she said did not give reasonable access to all tenants because it was conducted by email.

Keith Driver, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and community safety, said the council had reviewed allotment rules in 2009 after complaints from tenants about some allotments not being used properly.

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He gave an assurance the normal size of a plot will remain at 250sq m in the future, and added: 'I can assure you that those tenants who want to apply for a further half plot are welcome to do so.'

He said the current consultation was a clarification of expectations about cultivation and waste, and also included a section on criminal activity and safeguarding. He said: 'Tenants do not need to email in their comments and are welcome to contact us by any route they wish.'

He added he was extending the consultation period by four weeks, and it would now end on August 15.

He said the council had invested in security, tracks improvements and water supplies, and was keen to develop the use of site representatives as a link with the council, and so believed 'I do not consider there is a requirement for a review of the policy and management of the allotment service'.

Do you support the council's allotment policy? Email