URPC Agenda Item 13 of the 11 September 2019 Agenda:
a. To consider requesting a licence for the parish council to occupy the allotments prior to formal handover of the land from the developer;
b. To receive a letter from a resident about the statutory obligation to provide allotments and fairness to residents on the waiting list since 2011 of allocation by ballot;
c. To re-open the allotment waiting list in order to determine demand for plots, consider how it will be advertised, and any terms and conditions that may apply.
Also these are the Minutes from 14 August 2019 URPC Meeting:
112/19 Allotment Waiting List
Members RECEIVED advice from The National Allotment Society about allotment waiting lists, which suggested allocating plots by ballot, as the historic waiting list has not been actively maintained. The waiting list will need to be refreshed to determine demand. However, it is likely that the allotments will be oversubscribed, and some of the plots could be subdivided to increase the number of plots. Allotment fees and terms will also need to be agreed.
The allotments are a result of the development known as “Victory Fields” as part of the S106. They are not the result of any parishioner campaigning for them. Therefore, you could argue that all should be allocated to VF homeowners. Remember, as yet they still don’t formerly exist……
At last nights Parish Council meeting a resident appeared with a “list of names for the allotments”, the list and the names have never been public knowledge.
The Parish Council listened to the resident talk extensively during the 15 minute period allocated to the public and again the Chairman allowed her to present “her” case during item 13 of the Agenda. During this time this person threatened legal action if the allotments were not allocated to herself. I would have called her bluff as she hasn’t followed the Allotment Association protocol (see below).
The end result was that the PC allowed this resident to allocate 6 people allotments, including herself from her phantom list. Who are the 6, and why was this list not publicised on the PC website before the meeting, remember it is the PC who is supposed to manage the allotments?
These 6 names were allegedly sent to the PC in 2011, when the developers announced they would provide allotments (the list allegedly totals 24 from the period 2011/12/13, therefore my guess no one from VF will feature on it). More importantly, why did the PC allow this manipulation to take place?
Can anyone explain to me, who knew of this list before the meeting and how residents were added to it, it stinks of undemocratic cronyism?
How bizarre that the Parish Council allowed this illegal practice to take place? I asked the PC 3 years ago to be allocated an allotment, I wonder if I was on this list, I personally doubt it (of course she could say I was or not, to manipulate her argument).
I shall investigate the legality of this move by the Upper Rissington Parish Council, Chairman, Clerk and the resident.
The allotment association alway said that the fair way was to conduct a ballot to allocate allotments. Even the Clerk suggested this as minuted in August, so why in her legal capacity did she not advocate this? I want to know why and I will be asking for FOI access to all emails between the Clerks Office and this party back to 2011?
NB: Has the PC handed over the running of the allotments to someone not even associated with the council? It would appear that the answer is yes. However, the PC is incumbent in managing them, so who is actually in charge now? Answer: NO ONE!
CONCLUSION: Its not the allotments allocation that is the problem, it is the way it has been actioned that stinks of cronyism and undemocratic principles.
Very useful website: Allotment Association below is an extract from the site:
How to get an allotment
Getting an allotment can take time as waiting lists are long, but in the first instance you should contact your local authority – this will be your Parish, Town, Borough, City or District Council. The government website has a search facility for the larger local authority websites click here, many of these will also list contact details for town and parish councils. Your local authority will be able to provide you with a directory of local sites, from where you’ll be able to add your name to a list for your nearest site. There is no central point of information for allotments in Northern Ireland but some councils do provide them, the National Trust provide them on a number of their properties and there are private allotments such as Ards Allotments Co Down.
National Allotment Society member sites can also advertise plot vacancies on this site click here to view the page. Click here to read the NAS leaflet “Obtaining an allotment and what you can expect”.
Other allotment sites are provided by private landlords, including organisations like the Church of England. Hunt out your local allotment society and ask them if they know of any available plots or who manages the land which they use if it’s not owned by the local authority.
If there appears to be no allotments in your area, then we recommend you find five like minded people who would like an allotment and are on the electoral roll or registered council tax payers. Then individually and collectively, submit a formal letter to the local council. Send one (you can put all six letters in one envelope) by recorded delivery and one hand delivered, with at least two witnesses present. All local authorities have a mandatory obligation to provide allotment provision under Section 23 of the 1908 Small Holdings and Allotments Act. (But be warned there is no time scale attached to this process and unfortunately this process cannot be used in London, as the rule only applies outside of the capital thanks to the London Government Act 1963.) The Society recommendation is that authorities should supply 20 plots (or .5 hectare) per 1,000 households.
If you have no luck with the local authority and established private landlords, then your next step might have to be a sideways one… look around your neighbourhood and see if you can spot any vacant land which would make a good allotment. Find out who owns the land and ask away, it might just be possible that you can use it for growing on.