Bradford allotment change pleases gardeners

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: PLAN: Janet Goodinson with children at Scotchman Road allotments PLAN: Janet Goodinson with children at Scotchman Road allotments

A revamp of Bradford Council’s allotment services, designed to transform derelict sites and reduce waiting lists, has received praise from plot-holders.

Over the past year, the Council claims it has speeded up the letting of vacant plots by improving communication with allotment holders and site representatives.

Further improvements are set to include new site notice boards, and changes to the allotments website, which will enable people to apply for a plot, pay rent, report any faults, or check their position on the waiting list online.

Marilyn Taylor, who helped form the Allotments Action Group after becoming dissatisfied with a lack of urgency from the Council, said the group were “very pleased” with the progress made.

“The services have improved no-end,” she said. “Until 12 months ago, there seemed to be a lot of talk and no action, but the Council are now taking the issues as seriously as we do as plot-holders. There was talk of enormous waiting lists, but in some cases, it was just that plots were either unworkable or simply weren’t let. Now there are more regular site inspections and procedures have really been tightened up.”

The Council allotments team now visits the 36 Council-run sites across the district more frequently to check that tenants are cultivating their plots. If this is not the case, the council can cancel their agreement and re-let the plot to someone else.

Councillor Andrew Thornton, portfolio holder for Environment, Sport and Recreation, said: “The service to allotment holders has improved considerably. Vacant plots are being let more quickly and waiting lists are lower and better managed. We want to support allotment holders, but if people have lost interest then we would encourage them to tell us so that we can re-let the plot to someone on the waiting list.”

Bradford Community Environment Project (BCEP) allocates temporary starter plots at the Scotchman Road allotments, off Toller Lane, where some previously overgrown plots are currently being converted into a community garden.

BCEP leader Jane Robinson said that while recent improvements in council services were welcome, communication problems still remained.

“The turnover of plots remains slow on the less popular sites, and these do not seem to be promoted to those on waiting lists for other sites,” she said. “Also, some long-standing plot holders felt aggrieved that they had received warning letters about their level of cultivation. After a very wet winter, people did not want to damage the soil by working on it too soon, and some thought the letters were both unprecedented and heavy-handed.”

For more information on council-run allotments, visit www.bradford.gov.uk/ allotments, or to book a place on the next BCEP starter session at Scotchman Road, e-mail jane@bcep.co.uk.

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