Archive for June, 2019

Why Support and Training is an essential part of Community Empowerment

Friday, June 28th, 2019

There have been recent problems and conflicts in West Law Allotments in Dundee.  These have led to a plot holder of more than 20 years experience being evicted from his site, and losing his valuable and irreplaceable collection of prize Daffodil Bulbs.  Other plot holders who have supported this man have themselves been threatened with eviction.  These events have been covered in great detail over several months by the Dundee Evening Telegraph.

The site belongs to Dundee Council and was originally directly managed by them.  However a few years ago, the council decided to lease the site to the Allotment Association and leave them to manage it independently.  The association had an EGM in 2016 where the members adopted a constitution and code of conduct.  Anyone interested in Allotment Self Management should download and read these documents and think very, very hard.

How could Dundee Council grant a lease to an unincorporated allotment association with a constitution like this?  Look at the powers in clause 3.  What on earth do most of them have to do with managing an allotment site? How can such an organisation conceivably take on the responsibilities of employees pensions?  Look at clause 6 dealing with the management committee.  As far as this clause is concerned, a management committee member once elected is there for ever.  There is no time specified after which such a member must stand for re-election.  Look at clause 8 which states that when a plot holder leaves the plot any ‘equipment’ becomes the property of the committee.  In some situations this could be seen as condoning theft.

Drawing up a constitution for any organisation is a complex matter and not something to be undertaken lightly.  Dundee Council has clearly not given the plot holders of the site any support or guidance in how to develop something suitable.  In fact the constitution looks as if it has been cut and pasted from some completely different organisation.  Equally they have failed to  give the committee training in the governance required to manage a group of proud, independent allotment growers with a variety of opinions in how to look after a plot.  The dreadful results of these failures have led to a well meaning plot holder losing his health, his plot and the years of his hard work represented by the destruction of his prize daffodil bulbs.