Allotment secretary criticises council for ‘neglecting’ sites, reports James Cracknell
An allotments site secretary has demanded better service from Enfield Council after data showed the local authority was charging more rent than almost any other North London borough.
Philip Foxe helps manage the council’s Weir Hall Allotments in Edmonton but told the Dispatch that, as well as courgettes, he had grown frustrated with the local authority’s lack of maintenance across the site.
“It used to be in decent condition, with the council delivering compost and manure and there used to be competitions for the best kept patch in Enfield,” Philip explained. “But now the pathways are not being maintained, litter is not being picked up. The place is filthy. There are no towels or soap in the toilets. In the winter there are huge ruts in the driveways. I have been trying to get a lock replaced for a month now.”
Enfield Council charges £144 per year for a standard-sized allotment in the borough, with discounts available for pensioners, students, disabled people and those on low pay. There are additional charges for shed rental, water use, and plot and key deposits. Analysis by the Dispatch comparing the costs for renting an allotment in different London boroughs suggests that only Islington Council is currently charging more in total for allotments across North London.
Financial data revealed via a Freedom of Information request submitted by Philip also shows that the council is running a significant surplus on its circa 30 allotment sites – with money from rental income being used to subsidise other council services.
Philip said: “The council is effectively stealing money from the allotments – they had a surplus of £50,000 in 2018/19 and £35,000 in 2019/20.
“Allotments shouldn’t be for posh people who don’t care how much it costs.”
In response, a council spokesperson said: “We are working with the secretary of Weir Hall Allotments and have identified a number of works which need to be carried out on the site to raise standards there for plot holders.
“We are also constantly looking at ways of improving security at our allotments and we are currently trialling ID badges at Barrowell Green Allotments, which if successful will be rolled out across the borough.
“In terms of the fees and charges for our allotments we benchmark our fees with neighbouring boroughs each year to ensure that they are best value in the current market. This money is spent maintaining our allotments for the benefit of our tenants.”