Allotment costs reviewed

No need to dig deep: Coun Eric Bell at an allotment site
No need to dig deep: Coun Eric Bell at an allotment site

Controversial plans to charge concessionary groups full prices for allotments in Chorley have been put on hold.

Chorley Borough Council had been set to make pensioners and the unemployed pay the full price for a plot of land from £20 to £40 over the next two years.

Following a review, this will not start now for at least a year, but costs are due to go up at the start of April due to inflation increases.

Coun Eric Bell, who oversees allotments for the council, said: “We’ve just undergone a review of how we manage our allotments and some changes have been made to make their management more efficient and their allocation and charges more fair.

“The only increase to the full allotment fee is in line with inflation. We were planning to phase out the discounted rates.

“After listening to what allotment holders have said, we’re going to keep the 50 per cent reduction this year and consult further before making any changes.”

The price will go up by four per cent on April 1, meaning an increase of £1.60 for full-price payers, and 80p for those paying the concessionary rate.

A member of the Chorley Allotment Society spoke to the Guardian anonymously to voice her concerns.

She said she was also worried that all plot owners would have to start paying for water on the sites, regardless of their size and whether they use water.

Although Chorley Council has plans to charge users for water equally, Coun Bell confirmed this won’t be implemented until 2012/13, and the total cost of water will be divided by the number of plots.

Allotment holders on sites with mains water will be charged for the usage based on the previous rental year, so the amount in 2012/13 will be based on usage in 2011/12.

Coun Bell said: “The charge for water on sites with mains water will not come into force until next year and will be split between all the plot holders because this is the most practical way to do it.

“The charges are still very cheap in comparison to other councils’ and private allotments. The changes, along with others made following the review, will help us increase the number of allotments, allocate them fairly, improve their management, ensure charges are fair and reflect those of other councils, and encourage future self management of the allotments.”