Local authorities are preparing to hike allotment rents as government funding cuts bite.
Council chiefs are doubling or tripling rents as authorities struggle to cope with funding shortfalls from the government.
Brent Council in London has put up its prices. A medium-size allotment has gone up from £33 to £75 per year, while a full-size plot which used to cost £66 is now £150 per year.
The council insisted its revised charges were “very good value” at £1.50 per week for a medium plot and £3 per week for a large one. It will offer 50 per cent concessions for unemployed people, pensioners on pension credits, and disabled people.
Director of finance and corporate services, Clive Heaphy told AG: “The current tough economic challenges facing all local authorities have made it necessary to increase charges for some of our services. This was done reluctantly.”
Gardeners in Leeds took to internet forums to lash out at the City Council, claiming allotment rents had gone up from £33 to £50 this year.
Leeds City Council said rents would, in fact, rise from £15 to £17.50 for a half-plot, and from £30 to £35 for a full-plot.
Gardeners renting from cash-strapped Manchester Council said they fear they’re about to be hit by a rumoured 60 per cent rise in rents.
In Greenwich, London, allotmenteers believe that rents will rise from £66 to £200 per year. A Greenwich spokesman said: “The council is facing unprecedented financial pressure following Government cuts which require Greenwich to make £63.4million of savings over the next four years.
“We are having to make tough decisions to protect frontline services and the council is consulting on whether we might raise plot charges to £2 per week.”
National secretary of the Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners, Donna McDaid, said some plot rents had gone up “considerably”.
“Rent increases vary,” Donna said. “But even if local authorities put allotment rents up by 50 per cent, it wouldn’t make much of a difference to councils’ funding situations.”