An allotment crackdown has yielded spectacular results, with waiting lists slashed by three-quarters in a matter of months.
The overhaul of Bradford Council's allotment services was designed to transform derelict sites and reduce waiting lists.
The results are now in, and the waiting list for plots has been cut from 762 to 169 people in the past seven months.
A new report, set to go before the Council’s regeneration and economy overview and scrutiny committee on Thursday, says this is due to two new policies.
People on the waiting lists are asked to reconfirm their interest once a year and steps have been taken to ensure people who have registered on the waiting lists of two or more different allotments are not being counted twice.
Councillor Andrew Thornton, portfolio holder for environment, sport & sustainability, said: “This is really good news and gives us a clearer picture of the current waiting list.
“The most important thing is that we have improved the way we engage with allotment tenants, and responded to what they were telling us.”
Plot clearance work carried out in 2013/14 has also brought 30 abandoned plots back into life at an average cost of £715.
One of the allotments where work has been done is Bullroyd Allotments, off Allerton Road, Four Lane Ends.
Bullroyd Allotment Association member Brian Rayson said Council staff had cleared four overgrown plots, put up fencing and evicted some tenants.
He said: “It’s in better order than it was, but there is still room for improvement.”
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. According to the report, 134 tenancies were terminated in this way during 2013/14.
“Clearly we want to make sure that all plot holders are cultivating their allotments to the required standards so they don’t go to seed,” said Coun Thornton.
“If there is a valid reason why this cannot be done, it will be taken into account, but if they no longer want to commit to the work, we have an opportunity to allocate elsewhere.”
Coun Andrew Mallinson, chairman of the scrutiny committee, said: “We did identify poor communication between the Council and plot holders as an issue, and there are now clearer channels to do this.
“We also need to ensure that any new housing developments have land designated for recreational use, such as allotments.”