Legal action threatened over land
ALLOTMENT holders are digging their heels in and considering legal action if their demand for more plots is not met by North Herts District Council (NHDC). Baldock Allotment and Leisure Gardeners Association claims there are about 200 people on allotment
ALLOTMENT holders are digging their heels in and considering legal action if their demand for more plots is not met by North Herts District Council (NHDC).
Baldock Allotment and Leisure Gardeners Association claims there are about 200 people on allotment waiting lists in North Herts, including 34 in Baldock. There are also 203 people on the Stevenage allotment waiting list, while 45 people are waiting for plots in Stotfold.
The association said it has tried to persuade NHDC to bring disused allotment land on the North Road site in Baldock back into use, but to no avail.
Phil Charsley, a member of the association's committee, said: "The council has a statutory duty to provide allotments where they have land available."
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While members of the association cannot take legal action because they already have allotment plots, Mr Charsley said: "We would be very happy to help anybody who wants to take legal action."
He explained: "We are still in a situation where we have a lot of people who are waiting for allotments.
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"The big change which has occurred is that the majority of these people are quite young and we want to encourage them."
Baldock Town councillor Michael Muir is backing the association's demand for more plots but said there is a financial hurdle to overcome.
"I'm all for it. There is still a lot more allotment land which could be opened up but I believe the cost of bringing forward 10 full plots would be £18,000.
"Hopefully they are applying for grants from outside bodies. The council's money is all being used and we don't have any to give to them.
"We have got to try to make savings but the only way to make savings is on secondary services and unfortunately that's what's been happening."
A spokesman for NHDC said: "Baldock Allotment Association has a devolved maintenance budget for the two Baldock allotment sites.
"They are looking at making a small expansion of the present enclave at North Road to help with current demand and waiting lists.
"However, this together with the funding that would be needed would be subject to consultation with Countryside Management who manages the neighbouring nature reserve and others."
A spokesman for Countryside Management said: "We have got nothing against people having allotments there. It's not really any of our business as all we do is assist the district council, who own the land."
The Baldock Allotment and Leisure Gardeners Association is asking for those on an allotment waiting list, or anyone who would like an allotment in Baldock, to call Mick Camp, the association's chairman, on 01462 893418 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org