Guiseley councillor's call for allotments to run themselves to save money (From Wharfedale Observer)
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Guiseley councillor's call for allotments to run themselves to save money
Allotment associations should be encouraged to take over their own sites to enable a local authority to cut its costs without putting prices up, a councillor is arguing.
The move would give autonomy to local allotment sites while freeing the council of the need to give subsidies, according to Guiseley councillor Paul Wadsworth.
Coun Wadsworth said he was disappointed by plans to increase charges for allotment holders in Leeds and he called for more ambitious measures.
He spoke out after Leeds City Council’s Executive Board approved a plan to increase charges. The changes will mean that pensioners, for example, who lease a full plot will see an increase from £18.50 currently to £46.40 in 2014, £52 in 2015 and finally £57.60 in 2016.
Coun Wadsworth, shadow executive board member for environmental service, said: “The increased charges will at least be phased and to those plot holders in full-time employment I don’t think they will be too difficult to meet.
“I do have concerns about pensioners who will see their concessionary amount reduced to 20 per cent but at least plot holders will have a year to prepare before these charges are introduced.
“While I will keep an eye on the charging and the impact it is having, particularly on pensioners, my main concern is that we should be encouraging the creation of more allotment associations to take care of their own affairs by running their own sites. Sixty of the 97 allotment sites in Leeds are already operated by allotment associations, we should be looking to encourage this type of management that would remove the need for council involvement and deliver the savings required. Charging would then be the business of the associations to determine.”
The council subsidy to allotments for 2012/13 was £133,000. Even with proposed savings this bill would only be reduced to £80,000 per year. It is proposed that raising charges for the plots would cut that cost.
A report to the executive board said a consultation document had shown nearly 60 per cent in favour of a price rise – and only 22 per cent in favour of a third party operator taking over the management of allotments.
The report says the authority is facing “serious budget pressures” and will need to identify £145 million savings to 2015/16 in addition to the £150 million already identified for 2012/13.
It adds: “It is clear from consultation undertaken that the provision of allotments is valued and there is a strong desire to see this provision retained in a high quality, sustainable way.
“However there is also a clear need to address a budget deficit and users and stakeholders strongly expressed a desire to see proportional increases including to concession holders.”
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