Archive for June, 2015
The Community Empowerment Bill has now been passed by Holyrood. Thanks to the hard work of our members it establishes the principles of 250 sq.m. standard plot size, 5 year maximum waiting time and fair rents. We are delighted and you can see our press release here
However it is too early yet to celebrate ‘job done’. A lot of work still needs to be done to flesh out the bones of the legislation and this will be done over the next few months in guidance notes and secondary legislation. For example at the moment no money has been identified to enable local authorities to acquire land for the allotments they are supposed to provide. Until the 1970s the health budget could be tapped, but this was removed in new local authority legislation and no other budget has been identified. Without money LAs may argue that it is not possible to take ‘reasonable steps’ to provide allotments.
We need to ensure that this anomaly and others are dealt with. Any pressure that can be brought to bear on the government to ensure the legislation is not watered down will be greatly appreciated. Please write or email your MSPs, telling them how pleased you are that the legislation has been passed, and that you hope the secondary legislation and guidance notes that are to follow will ensure that the local authorities cannot wriggle out of their obligations.
If any allotment site has a small project that needs funding this scheme might be worth looking at. ASDA has committed the proceeds of the sales from their Scottish stores of their plastic bags to charitable causes. They will supply grants of up to £2000 for projects and good causes in their local community. The total cost of the project must not be more than £8000, but this probably would fit a lot of allotment improvement projects. For more details about this scheme see https://www.foundationscotland.org.uk/programmes/asda/
Today in parliament people power was shown to work. The Community Empowerment Bill was passed through the Scottish Parliament and in Part 7, on allotments, amendments were accepted by the Scottish Government that addressed all the major concerns raised by SAGS during the consultation period. The amended bill should protect and enhance Scotland’s allotment community into the future.
The main concerns raised by SAGS and addressed by the amendments related to:
- Statutory protection of allotments – local authorities will now need to consult with ministers before closing a site and will have to provide a replacement if there is demonstrable demand.
- Plot Size – 250 sq m has been defined as the size of a standard plot with the flexibility that people can ask for a smaller plot if the standard size is too big for them to manage
- Time on waiting lists – local authorities are now required to maintain a central waiting list of people wanting an allotment and to take reasonable steps to increase provision if waiting list numbers are greater than 50% of the exisiting number of plots, or if someone has been on the waiting list for 5 years or more
- Fair Rents – allotment rents must be set at a rate that reflects both the level of service provision and the plotholder’s ability to pay.
These amendments were brought about by the dedication and hard work of hundreds of SAGS members who emailed, lobbied and generally persuaded their elected representatives to take allotments seriously as a valuable resource for food, health, environmental quality and human happiness. So-A HUGE THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO CONTRIBUTED.