Friday, 12 February 2016

Barrow allotments price hike row may go to court

AN allotments campaigner has contacted a solicitor and could launch court action after rents doubled.

UNHAPPY: Eric Wood at his allotment at Long Meadow Allotments in Rampside Road, Roose

Barrow Borough Council carried out a review of allotments across the district last year after being hit with a £55,000 bill for their upkeep.

The council’s plan to meet the deficit included increasing rent, and the new charges have now come into force with the price of a 300-square-yard piece of land increasing from £43 a year to £86.

And the price hikes have proved unpopular with many allotment holders, who feel they are not being rewarded for the work they do on their land.

Eric Wood, who holds three allotments and is a former member of Barrow Borough Council, has pledged to fight the rises and said that he will go to court if he has to. He told the Evening Mail: “Basically, I have had quite a lot of people that have phoned me and spoken to me about the changes.

“In my own case, one of my allotments is quite big and I was going to give part of it up anyway. But if I give it up I will have less ground but pay the same money.

“I have contacted a solicitor to have a look at what we can do and this may even end up in county court. I think it is just awful if people have had land for many years but then have to give it up if they cannot afford it any more.”

The Evening Mail has received several letters from allotment holders who are unhappy about the increases. One Walney allotment holder wrote: “As a tenant of many years at one of the allotments on Walney I was quite shocked.

“The rent of £30 has been increased without any explanation as to why.”

Keith Johnson, assistant director for community services for Barrow Borough Council said the rises had been introduced after a scrutiny review and consultation which spanned 18 months.

He said: “It was done at the end of an 18 month scrutiny review but also in line with the council setting its budget for the next three years.”

Have your say

It's not about the rise, it's how the rise is applied. As for people having more than one plot, well, these stalwarts, like Eric, have held plots from a time when others didn't want them. The council couldn't give them away! Now allotments are trendy, there are plenty of people who take a romantic view of "grow your own". Truth be told, they wont last 2 seasons away from the comfort of their Sky box!

Posted by Bob on 17 May 2012 at 00:26

Allotments are a recreational facility provided by the council, just like bowling greens, tennis courts, and swimming pools. For a council to raise revenue by increasing charges for one facility at a much greater rate than the others is discriminatory, as judges have ruled in previous cases where this has gone to court.

This is widely known in allotment circles following Alex Mullins' case earlier this year, but some councils are pressing on with planned increases anyway, hoping that the prospect of large legal bills will deter allotment holders from making a stand. How many more cases will there need to be before councils start respecting the law?

Posted by Tim on 4 May 2012 at 10:38

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