Friday 21 September 2018

Brent Council should reinstate the role of Allotments Officer to tackle overgrown plots and poor billing

The overgrown allotment next to my plot at Birch Grove, Kingsbury
I was pleased to see Cllr Janice Long take up the issue of Brent Council's allotments at the recent Full Council meeting. It is a subject that has been covered on Wembley Matters several times.

Cllr Long said that she was receiving a lot of complaints about the state of our allotments: the billing process is disorganised, the council does not therefore know who no longer requires their allotment and the result is that many are left overgrown - 'a mess.'

She went on to say that the Council had got rid of its Allotments Officer (something I campaigned against) and the work had  'been dumped on someone in the parks department.'

Long mistakenly said she thought that allotments had been converted to self management, in fact allotment holders except for one site turned this down but the Allotments Officer was nevertheless made redundant. There are however allotment representatives who can liaise between allotment tenants and the council.  There used to be an incentive of free plot rental for people taking on this role but I am not sure this is still the case. My allotment site at Birchen Grove has recently elected a new representative and I hope this will result in some improvement. However I think the problem will only be resolved if Brent Council decide to reinstate the Allotments Officer position - there is a lot of potential income in those plots that are not currently being cultivated.

Cllr Krupa Sheth, lead cabinet member for the environment, responding to Cllr Long said, 'We definitely want to get the best out of our allotments. I'll take this back to the parks team and make sure the billing is done properly as well.'


Anonymous said...

A friend who has an allotment near the Feeder in Neasden told me that she hasn't had a bill for this year yet, nor has anyone else she knows.

The Council tried to get them to self-manage, but they have no one willing to take on this work. Most of them either have full-time jobs or are too old to be bothered with the hassle.

The rent they pay, if the Council could be bothered to collect it, should cover the cost of an Allotments Officer, although Brent are unlikely to get one as good as the lady they sacked.

Colin George said...

Brent Allotments are in a mess. I am challenging my bill (for a plot at Longstone) this year as I am eligible for concessionary rate, which I was last year and the year before... It seems hard to convince parks dept that I am not getting any younger. Meanwhile I'm receiving increasing threatening letters from the Council's debt-collecting department.
My local councillor is aware.

Martin Francis said...

Thanks Colin. Do get in touch with an update if your councillor is able to get some action.

Martin Francis said...

I agree. One of the things that put people off self-managing was the thought of having to chase up non-payers or non-cultivators personally, rather than it being the Council. Several people have asked the Coluncil about vacant plots, even identifying ubcultivated plots themselves and sending pictures to the Council, only to be told that there are 'hundreds' on the waiting list. I have counted at least 20 uncultivated overgrown plots at Birchen Grove.

Anonymous said...

At least someone has got a bill, even if its wrong. What a mess, indeed.

Anonymous said...

I guess the problem is that income from these types of things goes right to adult and children's social care with the increasing demand and decreased government money of late