Huge 400 per cent hike in St Albans allotment fees to be rejected, councillors say

PUBLISHED: 15:38 04 July 2017 | UPDATED: 15:38 04 July 2017

The allotments behind Folly Lane. Picture: DANNY LOO

The allotments behind Folly Lane. Picture: DANNY LOO

Archant

Reassurances have been given that a controversial 400 per cent hike in allotment prices over the next five years will be rejected.

The allotments behind Folly Lane. Picture: DANNY LOOThe allotments behind Folly Lane. Picture: DANNY LOO

Concern that a rise from £47.20 this year to £240 in 2022 has been causing “angst”, “concern” and “worry” amongst gardeners.

The rise is the highest rise of five options being discussed, with a full plot of 252sq m x 190sq m by 2022 costing £62.80 under option one, £80 under option two, £160 under option three and £240 in option four.

In a St Albans District Council city neighbourhoods committee meeting on June 28 the leader of the combined allotments associations, Christine Hood, said: “We are concerned that some of the proposed increases, option four particularly, will deter some very long standing plot holders from continuing with their work on the land.”

She noted allotments teach children about recycling and sustainability, create a sense of community, nurture diversity and encourage a healthy lifestyle.

The allotments behind Folly Lane. Picture: DANNY LOOThe allotments behind Folly Lane. Picture: DANNY LOO

Some sites raised their own funds for toilets and maintenance, give tours and grow produce for foodbanks.

“I honestly don’t know how any of that can be costed,” she said.

Spokesmen from Sandridge, Jubilee, Long Acres and Cell Barnes Lane Residents’ Associations also spoke at the meeting.

SADC councillors sought to abate residents fears, with Cllr Gerard McHale saying: “I don’t think there’s any justification for anything like the increases that have been proposed.”

The allotments behind Folly Lane. Picture: DANNY LOOThe allotments behind Folly Lane. Picture: DANNY LOO

It was called “unreasonable” by Cllr Robert Donald, who said: “I would like to remove the angst and concern from allotment holders that we will not be looking at 200, 300 or 400 per cent increases.”

In the meeting he added: “We are not going to vote for that and I think you know that, chair, so why even have it in the report?”

Chairman of the CNC, Cllr Alun Davies, agreed but defended the inclusion of the 400 per cent rise option.

“Nobody in their right mind was going to vote for that but it’s reasonable to have in front of us to see what it would take to cover costs,” he said.

One of the options will be chosen at the next CNC meeting in late September.

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