PEOPLE in Bradford have hit out at the Council over a "ridiculous" rise in the costs of renting an allotment.

Bradford Council revealed the new charge following a review into allotment rental charges for 2024/25, with the bill set to almost double in some locations.

Allotment holders fear they are being used as a "cash cow" amid the Council's budget struggles.

"We’ve had to take the difficult decision to increase charges due to a significant increase in costs across the service," the Council wrote in correspondence sent to allotment users.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Bullroyd allotment holders are upset about an increase in allotment fees.Bullroyd allotment holders are upset about an increase in allotment fees. (Image: Newsquest)

Now, from April 1, 2024, anyone looking to rent allotment space in Bradford district will have to pay £101 per plot. The full annual fee equates to a cost of £1.94 per week.

But allotment holders in Bradford have said that costs are going to hit people hard, particularly pensioners who now face a means tested benefit.

Steven Prosser, chairman of Bullroyd Allotment Association, said: “Our rates have gone from £55 a year to £101 a year for the same plot.

“And they’re ending subsidies for pensioners. Pensioners are going to have about £70 a year increase. That’s a hell of an increase for a pensioner.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Plants being grown at Bullroyd Allotments.Plants being grown at Bullroyd Allotments. (Image: Newsquest)

“The thing is they’re not offering any more services for what we’ll be paying."

Mr Prosser said Bullroyd Allotment Association, which is near the junction of Thornton Road and Allerton Road, has about 85 allotment plots.

Although he said that Bullroyd Allotments is technically full, with a waiting list of around 90 people, he noted that there would be more available plots if Council crews would come and clear overgrown plots that are not being used.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: An overgrown plot at Bullroyd Allotments.An overgrown plot at Bullroyd Allotments. (Image: Newsquest)

“We’ve been promised a crew will come in to clean up the overgrown plots.

“We get assurances from the Council but that means nothing in our opinion.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: An overgrown plot that needs clearing.An overgrown plot that needs clearing. (Image: Newsquest)

“It is ridiculous in so many ways,” said Bradford allotment holder Sean Moore. “The Council are on the one hand trying to promote a more healthy sustainable lifestyle while on the other hand making it more difficult for residents.

“Seems like they see allotment holders as easy cash cows for their financial woes.

“Also, many pensioners do not qualify for a means tested benefit so will face an even bigger rise from last year.

“There is also no option to pay in monthly instalments which would make it easier for many.”

Mr Prosser said the popularity of allotments still remains high with the National Allotments Association saying there are 2,500 allotment plot holders across Bradford and Shipley with a waiting list of another 2,000 people.

A Bradford Council spokesperson said:  “Following a review of allotment rental charges for 2024/2025 we’ve had to take the difficult decision to increase charges due a significant increase in costs across the service.

"Previously, the Council has heavily subsidised the cost of providing an allotments service, however, due to the Council’s current financial position and the financial challenges it faces, it can no longer afford to do so at the level it has done previously. 

"The new full annual fee equates to a cost of £1.94 per week and in our view, we believe that this still represents good value for those committed to growing in Bradford.

"Following a review of concessionary rents there will also be some changes to the concessions we apply, which will bring us in line with those offered by other local authorities.

"Pensioners in receipt of a means tested benefit will continue to receive a concession, along with those who are unemployed or have a disability and in receipt of Universal Credit or legacy benefit. 

"Unfortunately, this does mean that those in receipt of state pension will no longer be automatically entitled to a concession unless they are receiving a means tested benefit.

"We seek to clear overgrown plots at every opportunity. Where budgets permit, we work with other Council services to undertake litter picking and clearance works to return plots to tenantable use. 

The Community Payback team are currently working on two allotment sites within the district with the objective of clearing overgrown plots and removing accumulated waste and litter. We have benefitted from £150,000 of funding from the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).

"These funds will be invested in 4 separate sites across the district with the aim of returning as many plots as possible back into tenantable use.”