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Allotments in Warrington

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I am one of the 335 people currently on the Council waiting list for an allotment. When you apply you are asked which allotment site you would prefer. I chose the 2 sites at Victoria Park and the one at Orford Park. I contacted the relevant Council officer today (although there is no actual allotment officer) to find out if things had progressed and to see how long I may have to wait for my plot. The best case scenario approximation of my waiting time turns out to be about another ten years for the first site, about 30 years for the second site and an inestimable amount of time for my third choice. Fair enough you may think as it?s not that high on many people?s list of important issues but when you consider that since 1908 it has been law that Councils must provide allotments it seems more than a little unfair.

The actual wording from the act is ?Each allotment authority decides for itself how much of its resources to devote to allotments. However, if an authority believes there is a demand, it has a statutory duty to provide a sufficient quantity of plots and to let them to people living in its area. If local people feel there is a need for allotments which is not being met, they can get together a group of any six residents who are registered on the electoral roll and put their case to the local authority.?

With this in mind would anybody who is on the present waiting list or one of the Parish Council waiting lists (Lymms waiting list is currently above 500) please contact me at allotments@lycos.co.uk and I will see if we can do anything to speed up the process.

 

Many thanks in advance,

 

Paul.

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Very intersting topic - I used to have a friend who had an allotment at Vicky Park and they certainly didn't have to wait that long.

I also know there are over grown allotments and ones which fall into disuse.

Perhaps we should mount a campaign?

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Thanks Gary, I do intend to campaign for allotments and any help is more than appreciated. Some of the overgrown allotments could be due to long term illnesses and this seems to be taken into account. The council officer informed me that the individual allotment associations now police the sites and report to the council as and when a plot falls into disrepair. I don't think they would be too happy to have an old friends plot taken away though. There was recently a cross party bill introduced to the House,the allotments(planning) bill, which was aimed at encouraging councils to make provision of allotments and to impose duties on developers to provide land for allotments. It is a ten minute rule motion giving a backbencher a chance to introduce a bill of their own. They may give a ten minute speach in support of their proposal but they rarely progress to become law but fingers crossed.

 

Where I live in Callands our parish has made over 1000 acres of land available for development in the last few years alone but our whole parish has not a single square foot of allotment land which seems disgraceful given the amount of people living here and the obvious demand for such places.

 

I know many people think of allotmenters as old men with cloth caps trying to outgrow each others prize marrows but it isn't the case anymore. Nationally the average age of people growing their own has plummeted and a great many children, including my own daughter, love to grow fruit and veg. At the least they will learn that if you work hard enough you will get results. With the price of food going up what seems weekly people will not be able to afford 5 a week let alone 5 a day and growing your own is inexpensive, healthy and good for the environment too.

 

I really feel that allotments benefit local communities as much as any other amenity but sadly their provision in this town is woeful.

 

Sorry for the length of the rant but as you can probably tell this is something I do care about. Any help or advice from anyone will be more than welcome.

 

Paul.

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I'm in full agreement with you Paul. Mind you, responsibilities or not, getting this bunch of toga wearers to give you money for something which doesn't require traffic lights or a comittee that they can claim a few grand in allowances for might be an uphill struggle!

 

Of course with regards to the fresh food, you could always find a mate with an allotment and wait for the handouts!! :D

 

Come On Gary, lets have a good honest campaign on here before the other lot get hold of the story!!

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Cheers Baz, if I do succeed in getting an allotment the first bag of spuds is yours. As for financing, there are a great many grants available from other sources other than from council coffers, especially it seems for non profit making organisations which are concerned with local food production. Things like urban farms and community food assosiations etc. are eligible for millions it would appear. I identified a piece of land which would be perfect for this kind of project. It has stood unused for as long as anybody I know can remember. A couple of years ago it was going to have a road put through it and there were no campaigns to save it from development. The road was cancelled for other reasons but when I approached my local councillor with my ideas for this land it turned out that the council planning department had put a S.I.N.C. order (site of importance for nature conservation) on the area. Seems a little disingenuous considering it was going to be turned into a link road by the same people only 2 years before. A campaign would be great and if anybody knows any councillors :D could they try to get them onside.

 

Paul.

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I recall one Councillor raising the idea of utilising derelict land for a municipal allotement system, where surpluses could be gathered and sold cheaply in the market - healthy organic food, that hasn't travelled half way round the world. :D Alas, he was stone walled by the officers, who gave a multitude of reasons (as with most things) as to why it wasn't possible. :roll::wink:

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There is a great swathe of land ringfenced for Omega which I read will take 25 years to be developed, if at all. This land could be given a temporary allotment status with perhaps an agreement in place of a 12 month notice to clear site being given to plot holders, Surely a better use of the land than it just lying there waiting to be built all over. This is just one piece of unused land, all over the Borough there must be hectares of suitable ground not utilised for anything more constuctive than by the occasional dirt biker or kite flyer.

 

Observer the community farm idea I forwarded to my councillor did involve the selling of surplus at proper prices to local people. I also think if enough food could be produced then a box of fruit and veg could be delivered free of charge to local pensioners who may wish to recieve it. I even went as far as trying to get a price on a couple of old electric milk floats with a view to providing a "box swap" venture where if participants collected their vegetable waste in a box it would be collected and composted on the community farm. In return they would recieve discount on any produce bought from the farm. All profits from the scheme would be put back into the local community as it would be a non profit making scheme in order to qualify for many of the grants available.

 

I really feel this idea has merit. I will be trying my best to get something off the ground(or possibly in the ground is more apt)

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Then perhaps it's time they were injected with a little dynamism. We live in hope.

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It's difficult for both officers and politicians to escape their rut. :roll: The status quo is like some kind of comfort zone, and probably requires the least effort. :roll: Still, good luck with the idea. :wink:

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Gary, could you please email me with details of how much a small ad would cost to put in your magazine. Something along the lines of my original post. Thanks in advance,

 

Paul.

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Maybe you could get a local business to sponsor the idea!! :wink::wink:

 

That sounds like a very generous offer of support Baz and it will be accepted with thanks. If anybody has any advice on the best way to proceed with this I would love to hear from them.

 

Paul.

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PJ......

 

I fully support all your ideas as having once enquired about an allotment for me/my family, only to be told there was NO CHANCE AT ALL as the waiting list was so long, we were veryvery disappointed as we have no garden area to grow our oewn vegies, fruit, flowers etc.

 

I support any initiative to make allotments more freely available for ALL even if it is just on a temporary basis.

 

I guess one of the problems is that those lucky enough to get an allotment keep them for ever (which you can't blame them for) but it does mean that the rest of us stand no chance. :cry:

 

Good luck and I think you should get some FREE advertising :wink:

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Thank you Dismayed. I have long suspected that the Council officers do discourage people from going onto there already emabarassingly long waiting list. Imagine how long the list would be if they didn't do this. I will be trying to have more unused land given over to allotments/community farms and I will keep you posted.

 

One of the problems is that the council do not manage the waiting list at all. When a vacancy arises they simply contact the first name on the list. If they for some reason no longer want an allotment they then move on to the second name and so on. I have suggested to them this week that they should send out an annual letter asking that if you wish to stay on the list you have to return the form included. That way people who, for a great variety of reasons, may no longer wish to be on the waiting list could be removed. This will not fix the problem overnight but may reduce the amount of decades people are expected to wait for what is their legal right. Put your name down anyway dismayed and when you do tell the council officer that you fully intend to pursue your right to a plot. It may start to put the wind up them a little and their "comfort zone" which Observer pointed out may not be quite so comfy anymore.

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If the system was designed to encourage the production of food, by collecting the surplus for distribution in the market, and taking back those allotments that are not productive, we may get somewhere. :? Some allotments used to be left untended for years. :roll:

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Some allotments used to be left untended for years. :roll:

 

I thought that they had addressed that problem a few years ago?

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There are sometimes quite valid reasons for unworked plots not being taken away from the tennants. If, for example, the tennant has an injury or illness but expects to be able to return after recovering then I think it right to allow this. You would think though that the allotment association concerned may arange to keep the plot in good order in this circumstance. Whilst there are a few plots which are left unworked this wouldn't be enough to take too many off the list. More allotments would need to be established, especially in the newer developments around the town which seem to have no provision at all, to really have any sort of impact.

 

What I find most annoying is the fact that my rights under the law seem to be completely ignored. Its not like we have too many rights anymore is it?I asked my local councillor to pursue this with the officers and when I asked what they had said when presented with the relevent section of the Allotments Act he said that they knew of ways to get around it. What sort of attitude is that. I won't do my job properly or obey the law of the land because I know a way around it.

 

I am fully aware that this is not a high priority for most people in the town and that money is required for a great many things. I also know that some allotments look little better than shanty towns and get allotmenting a bad name(although this is the fault of the council for allowing it to go unchecked as they write the tennancy agreements). I understand that allotments historically are sometimes the butt of the odd joke or two and not really taken too seriously. This said I also see that nationwide people are becoming more concerned with the quality of what they feed themselves and their children. Because of this there is a huge interest in growing ones own produce, it tastes better, you know what went into its production and it is very affordable. In the last few years vegetable seeds have outsold flower seeds in the garden centres, people are growing their own food more now than at any time since the end of the war. We used to dig for victory now its for nutrition.

 

I wonder if, as a local councillor and regular poster, Cllr. Paul Kennedy would like to make a comment regarding this issue?

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Gary I did recieve it but my apologies as you had gone straight to junk mail for some reason. I will be in touch soon and thanks again.

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A fantastic idea- Canada employ food banks, where people on low incomes can benefit from food donated to the bank, and a community farm could benefit many people of all ages- from the traditional allotment agriculturalists to community service volunteers and even school groups.

 

Lord knows how we need farmers of all kinds, bearing in mind how many family farms gave disappeared under bulldozers in recent years. Plus Warrington could be a focus point for the Organic and Farmers Markets and become something its always wanted to be- a forward thinking adaptable town who are genuinely interested into making the future better for their citizens.

 

Heck if the farm gets going, sign me up on the Admin side!!

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what about a scheme were people could donate use of part of their gardens to people wanting to grow stuff and garden. a mutual benefit for maybe those who cant tend their own, get some company and help from those that want to.

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