Scottish Allotments and Gardens Society welcomes bill that will protect plots 'better than the rest of the UK'

The Scottish Allotments and Gardens Society (SAGS) says it is pleased the Scottish Government has listened to its concerns regarding Part 7, Allotments of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill (CEB).

The amended Bill was approved in its final debate in the Scottish Parliament on 17 June.

SAGs said: "All of our concerns including size, fair rents and statutory protection have been addressed and are now in the bill going forward to the Queen." 

The bill will give statutory protection of allotment sites, with local authorities required to not only consult with ministers prior to closing an allotment site, but will also need to provide a replacement site locally if there is still demonstrable demand.

The society said: "This protection for plotholders also means that statutory protection of allotments in Scotland is now stronger than in the rest of the UK, and reverses the previous position which has resulted in nearly 90 per cent of Scotland’s allotments disappearing since the Second world War, compared with only about half in the rest of the UK."

SAGS added that legislators had withstood pressure to cut allotment size and the bill defines a standard allotment plot as being 250 sqm. in area, with the flexibility that people can ask for a smaller plot if 250 sqm is too large for them to manage.

On waiting lists, the bill requires local authorities to maintain a central waiting list of people wanting an allotment, and to take ‘reasonable steps’ to increase allotment provision if the number of people on the waiting list exceeds 50 per cent of the number of existing plots, or if anyone has been on the waiting list for five years or more.

And on fair rents, the bill states that allotment rents must be calculated on a basis that is fair and reflects the level of services provided and the plotholder’s ability to pay.

SAGs said: "This clause in the Bill is a key social justice issue, as it ensures that allotments will be affordable to everyone in Scotland and will not simply become a hobby of the middle classes, as would become the case if rents were allowed to rise to reduce demand."

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