Monday, 21 August 2017

Allotment fees set to rise by five per cent

RENTING an allotment in Henley is set to cost more next year.

RENTING an allotment in Henley is set to cost more next year.

A proposed five per cent increase would take the cost of a 10-pole plot from £39 to £41, while a five-pole plot would cost £21, a rise of £1.50p.

The new fees would apply to both the Waterman’s Allotments, off Reading Road, and the Greencroft site, by Henley Cricket Club.

Henley Allotments Association has accepted the prorise posed by the town council, which owns the land.

Former Mayor Ian Reissmann told a meeting of the council’s recreation and amenities committee that the charges were already too high.

“It has concerned me over the last 10 years that we have seen increasing charges,” he said. “If you look at the management accounts, we do make profit on the allotments every year.

“It is worth noting that in 2003, when Henley Residents’ Group regained control of the council, a 10-pole allotment cost me £5.

“It has become quite fashionable to grow your own. When I first had an allotment there was never a queue.”

Town clerk Mike Kennedy said the rises would not come into force until October 2014 and 2015.

“The proposal is for modest increases over two years,” he said. “This has been put to the allotments association, with whom we work very closely, and they are supportive of these changes.”

Councillor David Silvester said he thought the rises were reasonable but questioned the need for a 33 per cent discount for the over-65s.

“In my experience, the ones I have met are really quite well off and have reasonable pensions,” he said.

Councillor Jeni Wood responded: “There are some people who have not got good pensions so we need to be fair to them. We are not talking about a lot of money.”

Cllr Reissmann said the council should consider providing extra facilities such as toilets, as happened at Caversham allotments.

Councillor Kellie Hinton said the allotment holders were getting value for money, adding that similar towns to Henley charged a minimum of £75 for an allotment. “Here, park services cut the grass a minimum of five times a year and trim the hedges,” she said. “Those at Greencroft use the toilets at the cricket club.

“We have a really good relationship with the allotments association. They don’t mind it and I don’t mind it.”

Councillor Sam Evans said: “It would be worth investigating putting in a toilet. If you are there for a few hours you will have a call of nature.”

Councillor David Nimmo Smith added: “We might purchase a couple of Portaloos and install them and perhaps have washing facilities as well. I am sure the people who use the facility would approve of that.”

The committee unanimously agreed the rent increase, which will be considered by the full council on Tuesday.

In 2011, the council spent £2,200 creating eight new plots at the Waterman’s site, bringing the total number to 104.

The council also put up a 6ft fence on three sides of the site to stop deer coming in and deter vandalism and installed six new taps, at a cost of £5,622.

In June last year, pressure group United! called for the allotments to be developed for housing instead of Lucy’s Farm in Harpsden.

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