Increase is still good value

PUBLISHED: 11:58 14 September 2006 | UPDATED: 10:54 06 May 2010

Richard Canning, (The Comet letters, September 7) recognises the positive benefits of allotment gardening, a sentiment I wholeheartedly agree with. He also asks why North Herts District Council decided to increase charges for the current year and next an

Richard Canning, (The Comet letters, September 7) recognises the positive benefits of allotment gardening, a sentiment I wholeheartedly agree with.

He also asks why North Herts District Council decided to increase charges for the current year and next and I would be grateful if you will allow me to respond.

Allotments, of which NHDC provides over 630 plots, provide the opportunity to grow healthy food and participate in health promoting physical and social activity. However, the costs of providing allotments are not fully recovered from rent income and are subsidised by the council, and ultimately council taxpayers. NHDC is currently facing increasing and considerable year-on-year financial pressures. The council has had to consider carefully areas from where it can meet this shortfall and has had to reduce the existing subsidies in a number of areas. In the case of allotment plots, NHDC has decided to increase charges from £28 in 2005/6 to £40 in 2006/7, with a final increase to £52 in 2007/8 to remove the subsidy to allotment gardens. Although I can understand concern amongst allotment holders at the need for an increase in charges I believe a charge that equates to £1 a week still represents excellent value for money.

Also, approximately 40% of our allotment holders receive and will continue to receive a discount if they are unemployed, elderly or disabled. Consequently, the charge to a large number of allotment holders will be less than £1 per week.

I hope your readers will agree that this still represents excellent value for money and a common sense approach, raising charges by a limited amount and still maintaining the availability of discounts. The council is still committed to encouraging the use of allotments and looks forward to working with allotment holders to maximise their use

Councillor IAN KNIGHTON, Leisure Portfolio Holder

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