Monday, 30 November 2020

Allotment holders may face sanctions for untidy plots

ALLOTMENT holders in Wargrave will be held accountable for the condition of their plots under new

ALLOTMENT holders in Wargrave will be held accountable for the condition of their plots under new plans.

The Woodclyffe Allotments Society and Wargrave Parish Council are negotiating the introduction of a tenancy agreement for residents with plots at the council allotments off Recreation Road.

The move follows concerns that some plots have been “neglected” and some allotment holders have left their plots without informing the council or society so they become overgrown.

The tenancy agreement could include sanctions for people who neglect their plot as well as clearly stating the responsibilities of the allotment holder, the society and council.

It is hoped to have the agreement in place by April.

Peter Mayes, a representative of the society, said: “It’s about making tenants accountable for the state of the allotments.

“The society was formed three years ago and we have our own ideas and we can also look at the council’s proposals. We are moving along a positive path and hopefully the new tenancy agreement will be in place by next year.”

Some members of the society had complained that the council was “neglecting” them as the “21st century plan” was first discussed more than a year ago.

Maureen Lenehan told a council meeting that members were becoming frustrated by the delays.

She said: “I’ve been raising the same issues again and again. The society feels as though we are doing our best and putting in the effort but nothing is coming back from the council.

“The last meeting I was at you said you would contact us in late August or September but we’ve had absolutely nothing.

“The lack of action is not only losing the good will of the members of the allotment society, it’s also causing anger.”

Mrs Lenehan said she first met with parish clerk Stephen Hedges and Councillor Marion Pope in June last year and circulated a document on the plan. She said: “You sent that document back in April, so you had it for 10 months.

“I know things move slowly on the parish council but we have been putting in a lot of work.”

Mr Hedges said he had agreed to meet with Mr Mayes a minimum of four times a year and whenever necessary in-between.

He said he was still working on the plan as he had to prioritise other projects in the village.

Mr Hedges said: “Anything health and safety has to be dealt with first. Several other issues were quite high priority and have to be dealt with as well.

“The clerk of the parish is part-time and does work over and above his hours trying to get as much done as possible. I was working on this at the weekend, purely voluntarily. I’m trying desperately to get this in place before April next year.”

The plan will also involve trying to increase the take-up of allotments.

Mr Hedges said: “We are looking at how to increase usage of the allotments as ours seem to be bucking a national trend. Nationally, allotments tend to have waiting lists and in neighbouring areas they do too.”

He said the council would work closely with the allotment society, which provided “a very valuable service”.

“There has been a dramatic change on the allotments and that’s largely due to the hard work of the allotment society,” said Mr Hedges.

Cllr Pope said: “I’d like to support our clerk — the amount of work our parish council has to do is huge.

“We are a big parish and have lots to cope with. He has been doing a tremendous amount of work and I support him on that issue.”

Council chairman Richard Bush added: “When I go across to the allotments I’m impressed with the care that has been taken.”

The allotments society was formed following a suggestion by members of the Wargrave Gardeners’ Club in 2013.

In 2014 the old tool shed on the site was refurbished in response to calls from allotment holders. There is now a new shed with 24 lockers for plot holders to store tools in.

A new toilet block was opened on the site in the same year.

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