The UK government is quietly undertaking a review of ‘statutory burdens’ (things that they must do, by law) on local authorities, to enable them to cut costs. That’s a good thing in principle, but finding that the provision of allotments is up for grabs is a bit of a shock.
The UK government is willing to sell off cherished public assets to save very small amounts of money, as demonstrated by the recent forestry fiasco. Also, anyone in politics will tell you that local authorities (LAs) don’t always act in the best interests of the people they are supposed to be serving.
Demand for allotments is at an all-time high, and many areas have quite breathtaking waiting lists. If the requirement goes, there will be a virtual freeze on new allotment provision. As leases expire, many LAs may refuse to renew them in order to free up the land for housing, office space or car parks. City allotmenteering could gradually become a thing of the past, and a third of a million allotment holders could find themselves standing in line to buy their fruit and veg at Tesco like everybody else.
It’s still possible to nip this sneaky little exercise in the bud, but there’s not much time – the deadline is 25th April. The ‘consultation exercise’ is well hidden and badly presented*, but basically you have to fill in this form (using reference number DCLG_136) to say why you think allotments should not become part of our nation’s vanished past. In case form-filling’s not your thing, here are some model answers – or you could simply e-mail them. You can also use this service to e-mail your MP, as most of them won’t yet know what’s going on.
In an unrelated matter, a separate review also proposes scrapping elements of the Climate Change Act and the Wildlife and Countryside Act. These aren’t little-known laws that no one cares about. The Wildlife and Countryside Act protects wild birds, their nests and eggs, and makes sure that national parks and marine reserves are protected. For more information, visit 38degrees.com.
*Forgive the quotation marks, but I can’t say the phrase ‘consultation exercise’ without making little quote gestures in the air like Doctor Evil in the Austin Powers films. Cynical? You bet.