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A council has provoked anger after asking gardeners applying for allotment plots about their sexual orientation.

Allotment gardeners were asked intimate questions

City of Lincoln Council posted an online questionnaire which asked wannabe plot-holders if they were gay, lesbian, bisexual, heterosexual or transgender.

Nosey council chiefs quizzed applicants to find out if they were Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Hindu or Sikh – or followed any other faith. But members of the city’s Boultham Allotments Association accused the council of losing the plot.

Assistant chairman Fred Hyde, 61, said: “It’s damned intrusive. Why do they want to know those details? All people are doing is trying to grow some fruit and vegetables. If I got a questionnaire I’d send it back and I will advise my members to do the same.”

One allotment holder, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “Asking about sexual preferences is a bit rich. Is the council saying it needs to know whether gays and lesbians are growing fruit and veg on its land? What possible provisions can they put in place for homosexuals?
It’s absurd.”

Fiona McEvoy, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, described the council’s actions as “local authority nonsense at its worst”.

Fiona said: “Although it’s easy to poke fun at, it’s costing us money and taking up the time of officers at the council.”

But the council insisted the survey was necessary to understand the needs of plot-holders. Alison Lewis, equality and diversity officer at the City of Lincoln Council, said: “We monitor equality and diversity to get an understanding of our customers and residents needs.

“The information is used to make sure we provide the best service. If the form reveals we have a high number of elderly or disabled users, it may highlight a need to improve the accessibility of our allotments.

“The equality and diversity form is optional and used throughout our website, not just for allotment applications. The information isn’t used to determine whether an application is successful or not and is kept secure and private.”

  • Bella D’Arcy Reed

    I had the same question on a survey from our local theatre in Chelmsford and complained to the local authority there. It appears that the survey compnay it uses (and probably used by Lincoln Council) always puts this question on surveys. Chelmsford Council spokeswoman gave me an apology and said she would ‘look into it’ but I’ve heard nothing since. I complained to the company but had nothing back at all.