Councils slammed for huge allotment waiting lists

Local authorities have come under fire for building up "ridiculous" allotment waiting lists.

Numbers waiting for plots have soared by 20 per cent in the past year to 91,500 - up from 76,330 last June, information collected by Transition Town West Kirby (TTWK) and the National Society of Allotment & Leisure Gardeners (NSALG) has revealed (HW, 16 April).

Camden, Islington, Burnley, Fylde, Wirral and Kingston-upon-Hull all have waiting lists of longer than 10 years.

Margaret Campbell, author of the latest report for TTWK, said: "Local authorities have a statutory duty to provide allotments but it is just not happening."

The NSALG is considering legal action against any councils failing to meet their statutory duty. Assistant secretary Donna McDaid said: "If councils are effectively refusing to provide allotments, we would consider taking them to court. A lot of local authorities are under-providing and as we have elections coming up, people should lobby their local councillors and MPs to put pressure on.

"Allotments seem to be treated by councils as the poor relation of recreational hobbies. Sports activities are heavily subsidised by comparison and we want to see a lot more done for gardeners."

National Allotment Gardens Trust chairman Neil Dixon said: "Councils have land set aside but have no budget to bring it back into use. It's a real shame for people on waiting lists. The council has a legal obligation to provide plots but unless you take them to court no-one is going to do a thing about it."

In Oldham, head of parks Steve Smith said waiting lists have risen by 100 per cent in the past year. Oldham has had three petitions from members of the public asking the council to find new sites. Overall, 400 people are on waiting lists for Oldham's 19 sites.

Smith said: "We have a lot of land we could hand over without great expense but we are dragging our heels. We need to keep it simple rather than look for hurdles."

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