Action call over derelict allotments in Bath
Allotment holders in Bath are calling on the council to take stiffer action against gardeners who leave their plots derelict while more than 500 people are sitting on the waiting list.
The city's Allotment Association says it is getting increasingly frustrated at what it says is the slow progress of its negotiations with the local authority.
It wants to see more inspections of sites to keep an eye on plots which are not being used and have become overgrown, quicker action against those who are not using their plots and a better data system in place so Bath and North East Somerset Council knows exactly who is registered on each site.
However, the local authority insists it does inspect all allotment sites every six to eight weeks and take action as quickly as possible where required.
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A spokesman said: "Although some sites may appear to have vacant plots, these will be either on offer to the person at the top of the waiting list, being brought up to standard by the current tenant or pending eviction.
"Some active allotment holders have found the wettest summer on record combined with the warm weather a challenge in restricting the growth on their plot."
Allotment association chairman Geoffrey Dart said there had been a positive meeting with councillor officers in April when they were told there was a budget in place for a new database system, but since then nothing had happened.
At the moment there are more than 560 people wanting allotments in Bath, and the sites in Cow Lane, near Royal Victoria Park, and Church Road, in Combe Down, have at least a four-year wait.
The situation could get more confused in the future as B&NES is considering the transfer of the day-to-day running of allotments to volunteers, as part of its cost-saving strategy.
However, there is some good news with B&NES Council allocating funding for 117 new allotments and an allotment management strategy, based on good practice at other local authorities, due to be put out for consultation at the end of this month.
Mr Dart said: "We are very pleased to see this new initiative to provide more allotment plots for Bath. We are committed to working to resolve the issue of vacant plots and the other points raised at the allotments forum. But they must fulfil their side of the bargain and put into practice what they promise."
A council spokesman said: "We are fully aware of the current status of all allotment plots, whether empty or not, through our existing electronic database. A substantial amount of information on our allotments is available on our website, including estimated waiting periods for people on the list.
"We are looking to improve our allotment service in the future by drawing up new tenancy agreements along with site rules and guidelines for tenants to make evictions even quicker. This is in addition to funding extra allotments."
Anyone interested in taking on an allotment plot, anyone on the waiting list, or anyone with an interest in the issue is invited to attend the allotments forum meeting at the Guildhall on November 28 at 7pm.
For information go to www. bathnes.gov.uk/services/sport -leisure-and-parks/allotments.