Rent rise for city allotments

PHOTO KEVIN McGUINNESS Paul Douthwaite is the site secretary at Sharoe Green allotments
PHOTO KEVIN McGUINNESS Paul Douthwaite is the site secretary at Sharoe Green allotments
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Allotment users have hit out at a 33 per cent increase in their annual rent.

Preston Council, which oversees almost 600 allotments, has decided to up the £60 annual charge for larger plots to £80.

The decision has been made to encourage people with larger plots to either leave or split the site, in order to reduce the number of people on the waiting list.

Paul Douthwaite, 73, who has had an allotment in Sharoe Green Lane for 30 years, said: “I think the whole system is immoral.

“In this day and age, to raise the cost of something by 33.3 per cent is quite a lot.

“Eight years ago I called on the council to find more land for allotments to ease the big waiting list problem, yet they’ve sat and done nothing.”

Councillor Robert Boswell, cabinet member for community and environment, said: “We want to encourage people with larger plots to agree to have it halved, or for them to leave.

“We have 318 large plots and 345 people on the waiting list.

“If we halved all of the large plots then it would create 600 smaller plots and the waiting list would be eradicated.

“We could force people off, but we don’t want to do that. It’s up to the tenants what they do.

“If they agree to halve the plot, then they will be given a year for free, on the understanding that they mentor a new tenant.”

He added: “If we had a big pot of cash, then perhaps we could look at opening up new allotment sites, but we don’t have the finances to start doing that right now.

“And in the research we have done, £80 a year for a large plot is a competitive price.”

A 25 per cent reduction on fees for pensioners or those who are unemployed will remain.