Baxenden allotments row as rent is set to soar

UP IN ARMS Brian Watts, left, chairman and Frank McVan, treasurer, of Baxenden Allotment and Garden Society

UP IN ARMS Brian Watts, left, chairman and Frank McVan, treasurer, of Baxenden Allotment and Garden Society

First published in Baxenden Lancashire Telegraph: Photograph of the Author by , Assistant news editor

ALLOTMENT holders in Hyndburn face forking out hundreds of pounds after the council hit them with a rise in their rent.

Frank McVan, treasurer of Baxenden Allotment and Garden Society, has slammed the fees as ‘extortionate’ but the council said it was the first increase in 10 years.

Mr McVan’s allotment is at the back of the recreation ground, off Hollins Lane in Baxenden.

His annual rent is going up from £34.45 in 2012 to £90 in 2013.

It will then rise to £130 in 2014, £170 in 2015 and £200 in 2016.

His wife Sheila, who rents a neighbouring plot, is also facing a 100 per cent hike.

Frank said: “The council said each allotment is costing taxpayers £240 to run each year.

“We just can't see how that is true because nothing has ever been spent on this allotment in years.

“The wall fell down 15 years ago and it's still down. I had to put fencing around it. There are no pathways and no maintenance whatsoever.

“There is only a gate because I put one in. The council has spent nothing on this plot so I can't see how they can justify it.”

Now he fears some growers may have to abandon their hobby because of the hefty rent rise.

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Frank said: “I know one woman who is facing paying £1,000 a year. People will struggle to pay it. There is a lot of anger about it.”

Brian Watts, 77, who has had an allotment for 54 years, is also dismayed about the rent rise.

He said: “We had a battle a few years ago when they wanted to take the land off us for housing. We fought and kept the allotments.

"There will be action over this. We’re all up in arms about it.”

Coun Ciaran Wells, who oversees the council's 620 plots, has defended the move and said it was part of a £300,000 investment programme over the next five years.

There are currently around 300 people on the waiting list for an allotment.

He said: “To finance this we have had to look at what tenants pay. Each allotment is currently costing local taxpayers £240 per year and this cannot be sustained in the current economic climate.

"Rent levels on allotment sites have been frozen for over ten years. Almost all of our tenants pay less than £1 per week.

"I have secured agreement with cabinet colleagues that no increase would take place until 2013.”

Comments (26)

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2:33pm Fri 6 Jan 12

pepperpot2296 says...

It,s not an enormous amount seeing that it has been pegged back for ten years?
It,s not an enormous amount seeing that it has been pegged back for ten years? pepperpot2296
  • Score: 0

2:44pm Fri 6 Jan 12

GAC says...

how does it cost £240 a year if nothing is spent on them, or is it that councils see allotments as easy meat to up tax returns.
how does it cost £240 a year if nothing is spent on them, or is it that councils see allotments as easy meat to up tax returns. GAC
  • Score: 0

3:10pm Fri 6 Jan 12

whirlingdervish says...

300 on the waiting list,,299 are by the hurstwood group,,
300 on the waiting list,,299 are by the hurstwood group,, whirlingdervish
  • Score: 0

3:47pm Fri 6 Jan 12

ossylad says...

Don't remember reading this in the Labour Party's proposals at the last local election,but I certainly will at the next election. Has this been approved by the Council?
I feel Counc Wells,who is very very ambitious may have made a serious mistake this time. Come back Peter Britcliffe all is forgiven!!!
Don't remember reading this in the Labour Party's proposals at the last local election,but I certainly will at the next election. Has this been approved by the Council? I feel Counc Wells,who is very very ambitious may have made a serious mistake this time. Come back Peter Britcliffe all is forgiven!!! ossylad
  • Score: 0

3:51pm Fri 6 Jan 12

QuarryGang78 says...

whirlingdervish wrote:
300 on the waiting list,,299 are by the hurstwood group,,
Frank said: “I know one woman who is facing paying £1,000 a year. People will struggle to pay it. There is a lot of anger about it.”
'Yes.but there is also a lot of people about who will be happy to pay the new fees..Its hard times for everyone am affraid to say..Even the toffs up bash have got to pay a few extra bob for shovelling their own sh1t about.
[quote][p][bold]whirlingdervish[/bold] wrote: 300 on the waiting list,,299 are by the hurstwood group,,[/p][/quote]Frank said: “I know one woman who is facing paying £1,000 a year. People will struggle to pay it. There is a lot of anger about it.” 'Yes.but there is also a lot of people about who will be happy to pay the new fees..Its hard times for everyone am affraid to say..Even the toffs up bash have got to pay a few extra bob for shovelling their own sh1t about. QuarryGang78
  • Score: 0

4:18pm Fri 6 Jan 12

ratshowilikeit says...

Il pay £4.00 a week if you dont want it moaning old sods
Il pay £4.00 a week if you dont want it moaning old sods ratshowilikeit
  • Score: 0

4:49pm Fri 6 Jan 12

happycyclist says...

Scum council. That's a nasty thing to do to many decent people who probably haven't got gardens, to whom their allotment is a reason to get out, keep active, socialise, save a bit of money growing their own food, and eat healthy food. I'm not surprised the allotment holders are angry.
When you consider the money the council spend on damage, vandalism and fly-tipping by antisocial people, it's completely unjustifiable to try and claw money back from the sort of people who are probably model citizens.
Whoever proposed this should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.
Fight it all the way. What are they going to do? Spend even more money evicting you?
Absolutely pathetic.
Scum council. That's a nasty thing to do to many decent people who probably haven't got gardens, to whom their allotment is a reason to get out, keep active, socialise, save a bit of money growing their own food, and eat healthy food. I'm not surprised the allotment holders are angry. When you consider the money the council spend on damage, vandalism and fly-tipping by antisocial people, it's completely unjustifiable to try and claw money back from the sort of people who are probably model citizens. Whoever proposed this should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. Fight it all the way. What are they going to do? Spend even more money evicting you? Absolutely pathetic. happycyclist
  • Score: 0

4:58pm Fri 6 Jan 12

Falconer24 says...

The majority of allotment holders are retired and i would imagine, with all the other increases in costs of living, will have no option but to give up their hobbies which is totally unfair- why is Hyndburn Council not following David Cameron's Big Society agenda?
The majority of allotment holders are retired and i would imagine, with all the other increases in costs of living, will have no option but to give up their hobbies which is totally unfair- why is Hyndburn Council not following David Cameron's Big Society agenda? Falconer24
  • Score: 0

5:57pm Fri 6 Jan 12

anotherview says...

Do the sums: 620 plots paying £150 per year rent, times 5 years equals £372,000. Well, blow me down, so the allotment holders are paying for their own "council investment in allotments." Most of this money will be spent on consultants, advisers, planners, contractors, three new gates and a fire bucket. Tell the council to get stuffed until they put forward £300,000 of realistic proposals to improve these allotments.
Do the sums: 620 plots paying £150 per year rent, times 5 years equals £372,000. Well, blow me down, so the allotment holders are paying for their own "council investment in allotments." Most of this money will be spent on consultants, advisers, planners, contractors, three new gates and a fire bucket. Tell the council to get stuffed until they put forward £300,000 of realistic proposals to improve these allotments. anotherview
  • Score: 0

5:58pm Fri 6 Jan 12

anotherview says...

Do the sums: 620 plots paying £150 per year rent, times 5 years equals £372,000. Well, blow me down, so the allotment holders are paying for their own "council investment in allotments." Most of this money will be spent on consultants, advisers, planners, contractors, three new gates and a fire bucket. Tell the council to get stuffed until they put forward £300,000 of realistic proposals to improve these allotments.
Do the sums: 620 plots paying £150 per year rent, times 5 years equals £372,000. Well, blow me down, so the allotment holders are paying for their own "council investment in allotments." Most of this money will be spent on consultants, advisers, planners, contractors, three new gates and a fire bucket. Tell the council to get stuffed until they put forward £300,000 of realistic proposals to improve these allotments. anotherview
  • Score: 0

6:44pm Fri 6 Jan 12

doylerf says...

anotherview wrote:
Do the sums: 620 plots paying £150 per year rent, times 5 years equals £372,000. Well, blow me down, so the allotment holders are paying for their own "council investment in allotments." Most of this money will be spent on consultants, advisers, planners, contractors, three new gates and a fire bucket. Tell the council to get stuffed until they put forward £300,000 of realistic proposals to improve these allotments.
Well, blow me down, so the allotment holders are paying for their own "council investment in allotments."

Isn't that the whole point of the rises? It isn't a great deal of money. It still remains relatively cheap.
[quote][p][bold]anotherview[/bold] wrote: Do the sums: 620 plots paying £150 per year rent, times 5 years equals £372,000. Well, blow me down, so the allotment holders are paying for their own "council investment in allotments." Most of this money will be spent on consultants, advisers, planners, contractors, three new gates and a fire bucket. Tell the council to get stuffed until they put forward £300,000 of realistic proposals to improve these allotments.[/p][/quote]Well, blow me down, so the allotment holders are paying for their own "council investment in allotments." Isn't that the whole point of the rises? It isn't a great deal of money. It still remains relatively cheap. doylerf
  • Score: 0

7:12pm Fri 6 Jan 12

vegeboy says...

this looks like a case of the council taking advantage of the fact the allotments have become very sought after,even fashionable.hence the waiting lists.of course there will be people willing to pay the high rent,thus pushing out the people who can least afford it.Allotments were kept going over the years when nobody wanted them, by these very people.THE LABOUR COUNCIL SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF THENSELVES.Will anybody stand up for the poor or must they always be pushed out by money.Fight it
this looks like a case of the council taking advantage of the fact the allotments have become very sought after,even fashionable.hence the waiting lists.of course there will be people willing to pay the high rent,thus pushing out the people who can least afford it.Allotments were kept going over the years when nobody wanted them, by these very people.THE LABOUR COUNCIL SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF THENSELVES.Will anybody stand up for the poor or must they always be pushed out by money.Fight it vegeboy
  • Score: 0

7:12pm Fri 6 Jan 12

vegeboy says...

this looks like a case of the council taking advantage of the fact the allotments have become very sought after,even fashionable.hence the waiting lists.of course there will be people willing to pay the high rent,thus pushing out the people who can least afford it.Allotments were kept going over the years when nobody wanted them, by these very people.THE LABOUR COUNCIL SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF THENSELVES.Will anybody stand up for the poor or must they always be pushed out by money.Fight it
this looks like a case of the council taking advantage of the fact the allotments have become very sought after,even fashionable.hence the waiting lists.of course there will be people willing to pay the high rent,thus pushing out the people who can least afford it.Allotments were kept going over the years when nobody wanted them, by these very people.THE LABOUR COUNCIL SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF THENSELVES.Will anybody stand up for the poor or must they always be pushed out by money.Fight it vegeboy
  • Score: 0

8:15pm Fri 6 Jan 12

fabinribblevalley says...

Perhaps they want to get rid of the allotments so they can make it into a travellers camp saving a bit on the money spent moving them about the area.
Perhaps they want to get rid of the allotments so they can make it into a travellers camp saving a bit on the money spent moving them about the area. fabinribblevalley
  • Score: 0

8:37pm Fri 6 Jan 12

mavrick says...

Who really cares? the NHS is being privatised and in the recent bye elecion 28% of people turned out to vote on a serious issue. and just what you expect over a few allotments beats me.
Who really cares? the NHS is being privatised and in the recent bye elecion 28% of people turned out to vote on a serious issue. and just what you expect over a few allotments beats me. mavrick
  • Score: 0

10:47pm Fri 6 Jan 12

Lifeinthemix says...

a symptom of the corporatisartion of our council and the shift to stakeholder communities whereby the biggest stakeholders lay down the law via the corporate council which is really Barnfield Contractors and the Nevison duo :

https://www.youtube.
com/watch?v=Vx5rNRNC
15c
a symptom of the corporatisartion of our council and the shift to stakeholder communities whereby the biggest stakeholders lay down the law via the corporate council which is really Barnfield Contractors and the Nevison duo : https://www.youtube. com/watch?v=Vx5rNRNC 15c Lifeinthemix
  • Score: 0

11:03pm Fri 6 Jan 12

anotherview says...

doylerf says...
6:44pm Fri 6 Jan 12


anotherview wrote:
Do the sums: 620 plots paying £150 per year rent, times 5 years equals £372,000. Well, blow me down, so the allotment holders are paying for their own "council investment in allotments." Most of this money will be spent on consultants, advisers, planners, contractors, three new gates and a fire bucket. Tell the council to get stuffed until they put forward £300,000 of realistic proposals to improve these allotments.
Well, blow me down, so the allotment holders are paying for their own "council investment in allotments."

Isn't that the whole point of the rises? It isn't a great deal of money. It still remains relatively cheap.

It is ONLY "cheap" if you are well off. Folk on low incomes or the basic pension cannot afford a tenner a week. Yet these people should not be priced out by "free market forces" Do un-employed council house tennants pay £600 a month rent??? No it is often paid for them.
doylerf says... 6:44pm Fri 6 Jan 12 anotherview wrote: Do the sums: 620 plots paying £150 per year rent, times 5 years equals £372,000. Well, blow me down, so the allotment holders are paying for their own "council investment in allotments." Most of this money will be spent on consultants, advisers, planners, contractors, three new gates and a fire bucket. Tell the council to get stuffed until they put forward £300,000 of realistic proposals to improve these allotments. Well, blow me down, so the allotment holders are paying for their own "council investment in allotments." Isn't that the whole point of the rises? It isn't a great deal of money. It still remains relatively cheap. It is ONLY "cheap" if you are well off. Folk on low incomes or the basic pension cannot afford a tenner a week. Yet these people should not be priced out by "free market forces" Do un-employed council house tennants pay £600 a month rent??? No it is often paid for them. anotherview
  • Score: 0

12:56am Sat 7 Jan 12

brok says...

If I was a cynic, I would suspect that the Council still have their eye on some prime building land. Price 'em out, build the houses.
If I was a cynic, I would suspect that the Council still have their eye on some prime building land. Price 'em out, build the houses. brok
  • Score: 0

10:10am Sat 7 Jan 12

billy32 says...

It sounds like a nice cheap hobby to me, and if he knows a woman who has to fork out £1000 then she will have to get rid of a few of her plots. They just want to moan about having to pay a few quid out each week. If they don't want to pay then just give notice to the council.
It sounds like a nice cheap hobby to me, and if he knows a woman who has to fork out £1000 then she will have to get rid of a few of her plots. They just want to moan about having to pay a few quid out each week. If they don't want to pay then just give notice to the council. billy32
  • Score: 0

11:15am Sat 7 Jan 12

anotherview says...

Billy 32 have you tried to exist on £120 quid a week? Heating, food, council tax, clothes, maintaining your home...let alone a holiday and travel; Christmas and the odd birthday gift. An allotment can be a great hobby and should not be priced out of the reach of the poorest amongst us. If there are 300 on a waiting list with money, let them stump up the neccessaries for more land to use for allotments. Walk the canal past Tesco, Hill street, towards Burnley there are acres of derelict land going begging.
Billy 32 have you tried to exist on £120 quid a week? Heating, food, council tax, clothes, maintaining your home...let alone a holiday and travel; Christmas and the odd birthday gift. An allotment can be a great hobby and should not be priced out of the reach of the poorest amongst us. If there are 300 on a waiting list with money, let them stump up the neccessaries for more land to use for allotments. Walk the canal past Tesco, Hill street, towards Burnley there are acres of derelict land going begging. anotherview
  • Score: 0

1:15pm Sat 7 Jan 12

machinehead says...

If the council is indeed out of pocket and wishes only to break even on these allotments, it seems the sensible option would be the formation of a co-operative to run the allotments at no cost to the taxpayer....
Idea being that people who have an allotment become stakeholders in the company, their fees are payed to the co-operative which takes responsibility for the maintenance of the plots and pays a rent to the council for use of the land. The object of the co-operative being to break even, or even a little profit as a contingency fund.

I am of course assuming that the council are telling the truth that they merely wish the plots to stop costing the taxpayer money, and there is nothing more sinister behind the increase.
If the council is indeed out of pocket and wishes only to break even on these allotments, it seems the sensible option would be the formation of a co-operative to run the allotments at no cost to the taxpayer.... Idea being that people who have an allotment become stakeholders in the company, their fees are payed to the co-operative which takes responsibility for the maintenance of the plots and pays a rent to the council for use of the land. The object of the co-operative being to break even, or even a little profit as a contingency fund. I am of course assuming that the council are telling the truth that they merely wish the plots to stop costing the taxpayer money, and there is nothing more sinister behind the increase. machinehead
  • Score: 0

2:48pm Sat 7 Jan 12

SarzWix says...

It is actually illegal for the council to raise the rent/costs for allotments by a higher percentage than they raise the costs for other leisure activities provided by them. There is legal precedent for this. So unless they are raising the costs for using leisure centres etc by the same percentage as the rent increases, they are breaking the law. Allotment holders in Aberdeen have successfully fought similar huge rent increases using this precedent. The full details are on GYO mag's forum The Grapevine. I'm searching for a link now and will post it shortly.
It is actually illegal for the council to raise the rent/costs for allotments by a higher percentage than they raise the costs for other leisure activities provided by them. There is legal precedent for this. So unless they are raising the costs for using leisure centres etc by the same percentage as the rent increases, they are breaking the law. Allotment holders in Aberdeen have successfully fought similar huge rent increases using this precedent. The full details are on GYO mag's forum The Grapevine. I'm searching for a link now and will post it shortly. SarzWix
  • Score: 0

2:59pm Sat 7 Jan 12

SarzWix says...

And here is the link to other allotment site's successful battles against disproportionate rent increases: http://www.growfruit
andveg.co.uk/grapevi
ne/allotment-advice/
battle-allotment-ren
t-increase-result_53
543.html

And to everyone who is having a go at plot-holders for fighting these increases, please remember that allotments have always been a 'peppercorn rent' as they were initially set up to compensate for the common-man's right to use 'common land' being taken away by enclosure. They are not supposed to be a money-making scheme for local councils.

Allowing envy/jealousy of people who have a plot to cloud your judgement over whether it's 'fair' or not won't help anyone, least of all yourselves...
And here is the link to other allotment site's successful battles against disproportionate rent increases: http://www.growfruit andveg.co.uk/grapevi ne/allotment-advice/ battle-allotment-ren t-increase-result_53 543.html And to everyone who is having a go at plot-holders for fighting these increases, please remember that allotments have always been a 'peppercorn rent' as they were initially set up to compensate for the common-man's right to use 'common land' being taken away by enclosure. They are not supposed to be a money-making scheme for local councils. Allowing envy/jealousy of people who have a plot to cloud your judgement over whether it's 'fair' or not won't help anyone, least of all yourselves... SarzWix
  • Score: 0

2:59pm Sat 7 Jan 12

superdad1 says...

What another stab in the back from Hyndburn council, How can this be legal they would not be allowed to put the council tax up so much in the next four years as they intend to do with the allotments.
we have to maintain the fences the land and get no help or compensation from the council for doing this.
The council need to get its act together and stop Illegal fly tipping which cost the tax payer thousands each year clearing up but no they cant catch these people so its the Innocent and the easiest they prey on to get the money to pay for this.
I wonder how many people will remain on the waiting list when they realise how much Hyndburn council are going to charge per plot? It will be cheaper going shopping in Asda for Vegetables than grow your own so much for David Cameron's big society.
What another stab in the back from Hyndburn council, How can this be legal they would not be allowed to put the council tax up so much in the next four years as they intend to do with the allotments. we have to maintain the fences the land and get no help or compensation from the council for doing this. The council need to get its act together and stop Illegal fly tipping which cost the tax payer thousands each year clearing up but no they cant catch these people so its the Innocent and the easiest they prey on to get the money to pay for this. I wonder how many people will remain on the waiting list when they realise how much Hyndburn council are going to charge per plot? It will be cheaper going shopping in Asda for Vegetables than grow your own so much for David Cameron's big society. superdad1
  • Score: 0

4:25pm Sun 8 Jan 12

Digger84 says...

Well, I don't know how it is costing taxpayers £240 per year. In 2010 I was given a marked out section of a field as my allotment. I was given a reduction in rent for the first year on the condition that I erected a fence around my allotment (Costing me the best part of £200) The story was the same for all of the tenants on the new part of the site.

What the council have now, is a ready made allotment site, which was constructed by, and at the expense of, its current tenants. Now that the site is finished, they are trying to drive away the people who did all the work in favour of people willing to pay these extortionate new fees!
Well, I don't know how it is costing taxpayers £240 per year. In 2010 I was given a marked out section of a field as my allotment. I was given a reduction in rent for the first year on the condition that I erected a fence around my allotment (Costing me the best part of £200) The story was the same for all of the tenants on the new part of the site. What the council have now, is a ready made allotment site, which was constructed by, and at the expense of, its current tenants. Now that the site is finished, they are trying to drive away the people who did all the work in favour of people willing to pay these extortionate new fees! Digger84
  • Score: 0

2:36pm Mon 9 Jan 12

DustyMears says...

I think the council have suddenly realised allotments can be a bit of a money spinner – bit slow on the uptake at HBC. They’ve had an allotments officer for years but neglected allotments for years – what they’ve been doing is anyone’s guess. Then all efforts were concentrated on Meadoway and Heys at a cost of tens of thousands and detriment of other sites.
These rises were muted about 12 months ago and some groups tried to put pressure on HBC officers, make them see sense. Obviously fell on deaf ears
The proposed rise is outrageous and putting allotments into the unaffordable. It's not just a few quid, it's a lot of quid when you’re on low income. For many allotment holder, this is their only supposedly affordable hobby, social pastime.
From Oct 10 to Oct 11, the only substantial spend at Bash (HBC's £500+ spending) is £604.94 water charges (recharged to plot holders anyway) and £525 on a tap repair. BAGS have kept their site going as best they can. If it wasn’t for them taking a lead, the site would be in much worse state than it is. HBC are just taking the p**s.
Same published info, total £84,000 on allotments - mainly Meadoway, Milnshaw and Heys. HBC list major capital projects to be undertaken in 2011/12 - Allotment regeneration budget increasing from £82,000 to £162,000.
I say the £240 cost to tax payers is a red herring, rabble rousing nonsense and the real reasons for their racketeering is to pay for this regeneration – double whammy for plot holders.
HBC blunder from one legal disaster to another at cost to YOU the council tax payer – this is another brewing case.
I think the council have suddenly realised allotments can be a bit of a money spinner – bit slow on the uptake at HBC. They’ve had an allotments officer for years but neglected allotments for years – what they’ve been doing is anyone’s guess. Then all efforts were concentrated on Meadoway and Heys at a cost of tens of thousands and detriment of other sites. These rises were muted about 12 months ago and some groups tried to put pressure on HBC officers, make them see sense. Obviously fell on deaf ears The proposed rise is outrageous and putting allotments into the unaffordable. It's not just a few quid, it's a lot of quid when you’re on low income. For many allotment holder, this is their only supposedly affordable hobby, social pastime. From Oct 10 to Oct 11, the only substantial spend at Bash (HBC's £500+ spending) is £604.94 water charges (recharged to plot holders anyway) and £525 on a tap repair. BAGS have kept their site going as best they can. If it wasn’t for them taking a lead, the site would be in much worse state than it is. HBC are just taking the p**s. Same published info, total £84,000 on allotments - mainly Meadoway, Milnshaw and Heys. HBC list major capital projects to be undertaken in 2011/12 - Allotment regeneration budget increasing from £82,000 to £162,000. I say the £240 cost to tax payers is a red herring, rabble rousing nonsense and the real reasons for their racketeering is to pay for this regeneration – double whammy for plot holders. HBC blunder from one legal disaster to another at cost to YOU the council tax payer – this is another brewing case. DustyMears
  • Score: 0

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