Allotment holders give up plots after Redbridge Council approves 25pc hike in fees
PUBLISHED: 17:00 10 September 2019
Allotment holders in Redbridge say they have been forced to give up their plots following an "excessive and detrimental" fee increase of 25per cent.
The annual cost of an allotment in the borough has increased from £57.50 to £81.90, which includes the introduction of a £10 water charge for each plot.
For a larger plot, the cost has increased from £104 to £140.
The changes were approved by cabinet in July and allotment holders were informed of the new charges in August.
Paul Ellis-Howe, volunteer site supervisor at Chigwell Road Allotments, said three allotment holders have given up their plots.
"The impact of this on some tenants is huge," he said.
"It affects those tenants that can least afford it and we already have already had two tenants give up plots because of the unaffordability of continuing.
"One of them has been tending his allotment since 2005 and is in his 80s.
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"The other is a couple with a young family that can't justify spending that amount when there are other pressures on the family."
He said fees in neighbouring boroughs, such as Newham and Havering, are much lower - Havering Council charges £35 for a small plot and Newham charges £31.43 - and tenants were not given an opportunity to have their say.
"It's a council exercise to save around £20,000 and we feel that not only have we not been part of the consultation process but that the increase is excessive and detrimental to the ability of some tenants to be able to afford to continue," he said.
A council spokeswoman said the council is operating under "unprecedented financial pressure" due to budget cuts.
"Historically, we've subsidised the cost of allotments but we're having to make some tough decisions given the demands on our dwindling resources and reduce this subsidy," she said.
"As well as paying for the hire of the plot, the fees cover the cost of maintenance and water provision.
"The tenants were written to in the week commencing August 26 notifying them of the charges for 2019-20 which has been standard practice every year.
"An allotment plot of 125m2 will now cost Redbridge residents £81.90, an increase of just 47pence a week, with a substantial concession of 50pc for the disabled and pensioners.
"It means we continue to offer local people some of the lowest charges for an allotment in London and excellent value for money."