Anger over North Herts allotment price hike

AN ALLOTMENT holder is “incensed” after the cost of a plot in North Herts doubled on Friday and has vowed to campaign against the hike.

Dorothy Slater, of Wheat Hill, Letchworth GC, received a letter from North Herts District Council (NHDC) at the end of last month addressed to all allotment holders informing them that all plot prices had increased by 100 per cent.

The new pricing, agreed during the setting of this year’s budget, came into effect on Friday with a starter plot going up from �14 to �28, a standard plot which was �28 last year is now �56 and a double plot has increased from �56 to �112.

A 50 per cent concession applies for those over 60, unemployed, receiving disability benefit or income support or full-time students over 18.

“I’ve spoken to many people on the allotments who are saying it’s a ridiculous price and they want to protest about it,” said Mrs Slater, who has a plot at Runnalow Allotments in the town.

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“I’ve got friends who are very keen gardeners and one has an allotment in Scarborough and they are paying something like �15 there. I’ve had an allotment for the last eight years and it’s gone up quite a lot in that time. I know things are tight but they have to look elsewhere.

“A lot of people do it for leisure but it’s also a way of keeping fit and healthy given that you are exercising and growing fresh vegetables which you know where they’ve come from. It’s saving the NHS money.”

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Mrs Slater added: “If they don’t listen to us then we’re going to start a petition. I am incensed by this exorbitant rent rise, as are many of the allotment holders that I have spoken to. I hope other allotment holders, who feel the same, will not just sit back and accept it, but will actually make their feelings known in the right quarters.”

The cost of plots are higher than elsewhere in Comet country, with a 25 square metre plot in Stevenage priced at �3.80 with 50 per cent off for over 65s and the unemployed, while a full plot in Stotfold or Arlesey costs �30, with a half plot priced at �15.

John Robinson, NHDC’s strategic director of customer services, said: “Unfortunately, the council is facing serious financial challenges, meaning that in order to balance our budget we have had to increase some of our fees and charges for our services, find efficiencies in the delivery of our services and reduce our staffing costs.

“On the issue of allotments, the council is asking for people who use these highly valued facilities to help pay for them, reducing the burden on other North Hertfordshire council taxpayers who don’t use them. This rationale was also applied to increases in fees for our leisure centres and hall hire.”

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