Questions for the Minister on Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015

These questions were sent to the Scottish Government on Aug 29th 2015.  Answers will be added as they are received.

1. Responsibilities and Partnership working

  • How will the Minister ensure that the LA’s provide 1,000 new standard allotment plots within 12 month’s of the CEB becoming Law?
  • What monitoring process will be used. How will the LA’s be required to report and at what interval?
  • Land that had been previously marked as Potential Development Areas (PDAs) in the 2009 local area plan, is now under ‘allocation’ or ‘strategic masterplan area’ or ‘strategic industrial and business location’ in the 2015 Local Development Plan. Can we be assured that these areas will come under review when the Local Authorities must create a food strategy and identify land for such?
  • Which Councils have carried out a land audit and how many of these include allotment sites?
  • How can local authorities be compelled (by those on waiting lists) to comply with the new legislation, if they argue a) no land available and / or b) no money to develop new sites.
  • How will local authorities decide the the maximum distance that an allotment site might be from an applicants home? (particularly relevant for Highlands)
  • Who can decide about halving and joining of plots?
  • Who is responsible for access and for fencing, locks etc? How does this affect devolved management?
  •  Who would resolve disputes between a local authority and an allotment association? Is there a role for Federations?
  • Who will decide a Fair Rent and how can associations challenge this?

2. Register of sites, site monitoring etc.

  • Will the local authority be solely in charge of waiting lists or will  sites still manage their own?
  • If the LA and / or the Federation to have a centralised register of holders, and also a black-list for problem tenants will individual association be able to access data for their site?
  • Would independent sites be on the register, even if details those applying are not available?

3. Funding

  • It was stated that the LA’s will receive support from the SG in their new responsibilities under the CEB.  What form will that take?  How will the LA’s access that support.  What monitoring process will be used. How will the LA’s be required to report on the use of that support and at what interval?
  • Will there be support capacity building at ground level to manage and take care of land in a sustainable way.
  • How will the Scottish government address land contamination issues in urban areas?. This is an environmental issue of similar significance. albeit of a very different type, as supporting ecosystems and wildlife around the edges of farming land. Will the LAs have support to deal with contaminated land?
  • Will there be funding so all SAGS members can contribute to the sharing of the knowledge of good practice and support their local authorities both in the implementation of the allotments legislation and the development of the Food Growing Strategy?.
  • Who will decide on any rent reductions and recompense for devolved management
  • What support and encouragement  will there be for nascent allotment associations and other growing groups to join together to ask for a voice on the Community Planning Partnerships?

4. Compulsory Purchase:

  • Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) for Allotments
    The Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform has given a commitment to review the position on the need for CPOs for allotments (CPOs for allotments is currently excluded from the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015).
    To do this Scottish Government is required to develop a business case to justify interfering with the rights of individuals to the peaceful enjoyment of their own possessions European Convention on Human Rights (ie whether there? a sufficient level of public interest to justify taking forward these powers). We will be approaching you all in the near future to seek information that will help develop such a business case.  Following this should there be an identified need for these powers – we will work with officials across Scottish Government to identify an instrument where these powers may be taken forward.
  • What justification and figures are needed?. What is  the reasoning behind the exclusion from the Act? How does the European Convention define public interest?
  • Compulsory purchase is fraught with issues and problems the bill needs to address more creative ways to gain access and contact with land short of compulsory purchase.

5. Role of Independent sites:

  • Is requirement to provide accommodation for allotments also available for independent sites?
    Re: Part 9 section 125
  • Has the Council a responsibility to provide alternative sites if land is leased?  what duties does the  land owner if a public body such as Scottish water have?

6. Land Reform:

  • How do the Community Empowerment Act and the land reform bill mutually support each other to democratise the use of land and access to it?.
  • What are the plans with regard to redistributing land in urban areas?.
  • Can european and farming money be trickled down to allotments and non profit making organisations?
  • Can allotments on private land to be recognised and protected under the Land Reform Bill?

7. National Performance Indicators

  • will there be any new ones arising from the Community Empowerment Act?