Sunday 21 February 2016

Self-managed allotments- local control or a cover for cuts?

Brent Council is holding a consultation meeting with allotment holders on 'Allotment Associations and Self-Management: The Future of Your Allotments?'  on March 2nd.

As part of the Food Growing and Allotment Strategy LINK tenants will be consulted on their views of self-management:
Councils across the UK are looking at different styles of management with the aim of running allotments more effectively. Having an Allotment Association os the first step to taking more ownership of your site and in its most extreme (sic) form, this means that Allotment Associations lease the sites from the Council and take on the full financial, administration and maintenance management of their sites.
In Brent one allotment site is already self-managed but other sites lack an Allotment Association.

Speakers include:
Richard King, Barnet Allotment Federartion on 'The Barnet experience'
Clare Fuchs, self-management in Hammersmith and Fulham
Richard Wiltshire, the National Allotment Society
Derek Osborne, Chair of the self-managed Old Kenton Lane Allotment Association
In my chats to fellow allotment holders there seems little appetite for self-management but I expect attitudes will vary across the borough.

'Full financial , adminstration and maintenance management' sounds like a considerable amount of work that will be transferred from council officers to volunteers.  Major maintenance such as control of trees, fencing and drainage will clearly be potentially very expensive although water bills, toilet lighting etc will be paid through regular rental income.

There are whole borough issues such as management of waiting lists where people may be interested in plots at more than one site and initiatives such as wildlife friendly gardening, sustainable and chemical free gardening, where the present Food Growing and Allotment Offfcer has performed a vital role, which would be lost if the post is abolished as a result of self-management.

I hope the meeting is well attended and the issues given a good airing.

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