Reading Borough Council (RBC) plan to increase the rental on their 20 allotment sites by 50%. The proposal was included in the schedule of fees and charges within the RBC budget and medium term financial strategy approved by the council meeting on 26 February.
The Whitley Pump was told that the increases are designed to cover the cost of the allotment service. Changes will not come into force until after a consultation with existing plot holders, following which a timetable will be agreed. There will be concessions for those tenants who are eligible for council tax relief.
Reading allotments are categorised as A, B or C depending on the services that are provided on the site. Category A, with water within 30m of each plot, category B with water on-site and category C with no water on-site.
A standard allotment plot measures 10 poles, an area of about 250sqm, although many smaller 5 pole (half plots) are also available.
per 250sqm plot
*NB: There was a typo in the committee report which showed the price for a 25sqm plot not a 250sqm plot.
Other charges when an allotment is first taken on will also increase. RBC hope to raise an additional £26,000 from increasing allotment rents and reviewing plot sizes in the forthcoming financial year. The certainty of this income has been given a risk rating of 30% which means that there is a good chance that it can be achieved.
Although RBC published a long list of cost saving and income generation proposals in July 2017 which included a 100% increase in allotment rental charges over three years to increase income by £35,000, the standard rental did not increase between 2017/18 and 2018/19.
Brexit on the horizon may be an event which will trigger an increased demand for allotments. In its March newsletter, ex-Reading seed and plant supplier Suttons has an item with the headline ‘Survive Brexit’:
Much has been said about possible food shortages, with the biggest potential issue being fresh produce such as fruit and veg. But would the loss of tasteless Spanish strawberries and watery tomatoes really be such a problem? It really is so easy and so much better, to have a go at growing your own.
Waterloo Meadows, Katesgrove’s only allotment site, is a category A allotment. The pylon comes free. According to the RBC allotments page there are only three people on the waiting list and the average waiting time is one month.