As a result of much complaint from allotment holders in the borough about the relative lack of consultation that took place before the rent increase was voted through by the council cabinet the council established an allotment forum in 2011 to avoid similar issues in the future. Graham Farrant is the Pippenhall representative on the forum.
To date there have been four meetings of the forum but critically the council have yet to re-issue a revised self management agreement so that allotment sites within the borough could understand what would be required of them if partial self management were to be agreed and to see if savings could be made which could then help to keep rents down.
The council have indicated that they will may need allotment sites in the borough to take over some aspects of site management if further rent increases are to be avoided in the future. Savings have already been made by no longer offering rubbish skips and by reducing the frequency of mowing of grass verges. The largest costs to run the allotments are the cost of the administering the allotment service, site maintenance (council and sub contracted) and the water rates for all of the sites. This last item alone came to over £25,000 in financial year 2010/11). The only opportunity to make significant savings would be to look at ways to reduce these three main areas of expenditure but this would inevitably require some difficult decisions for both the council and plotholders throughout the borough.
One requirement that has been establised for potential self management is that each site would need to have an active allotment association which represents the majority of plot holders with an elected committee of officers.
It has been suggested that a sub section of EAHGS could be established for exactly this purpose.
We probably have until the autumn of 2012 to explore this and take action towards self management or I suspect we could be faced with further rent increases in the future.
The next meeting of the allotment forum was due to take place in April/May but this failed to happen, the reason subsequently given was that there were new councillors who needed to give the council officers direction in this area.
As I write this it is the second week of October and following my communication with Councillor O'Mara (she has taken over responsibility for Parks and Open Spaces from Councillor Fahey) a meeting of the Allotment Forum has now been scheduled for Thursday 8th November 2012.
I have asked for the following two issues to be put on the agenda:
Graham Farrant October 11th 2012
Update 12th November 2012
At the Greenwich Allotment Forum meeting on the 8th November the council confirmed there will be no increase in allotment rents next year. They also provided a draft of a revised self management agreement and agreed to provide current rent income and expenditure details for the Pippenhall site. Once this information is to hand I will update this page with more details on whether a self management agreement for our site would have any potential, and critically if rents could be lower than the current council rates.
If there is any potential the next step after this would be to hold a meeting to explain to all plotholders the situation, opportunities and risk. The council also confirmed that any site that wanted to become self managed would have to have a significant majority of plotholders in favour.
The next meeting of the Greenwich Allotment Forum is scheduled for late January- if you have any important issues that may affect allotment tenants in the borough please e-mail us with the details on email@example.com so they can be raised in the forum. Please note Pippenhall site specific issues should be discussed with our site rep, Graham, or with Sheila Schubert at the council.
Update May 2013
As yet no meeting of the GAF has been scheduled for 2013.
As of April 2017 there are no further plans for self management of the Pippenhall site as there would be no financial benefit to tenants.
The allotment shop at Pippenhall is open every Sunday morning from 10am to midday until the last Sunday in November. It will then close until February.
Please could all tenants make sure the gate is always shut fully after entering or exiting the site and not to let anyone on site who does not have a key for the gate. There have been a number of instances of theft and sheds being broken into in recent weeks and we would ask tenants to report any suspicious activity to both the police and Greenwich council parks and open spaces department.
One of our members has experimented with growing potatoes in bags over the last two years. Read about his experience and advice to other container growers here
One of the tenants at Pippenhall has recently started a Pippenhall allotment blog. Have a look for yourself and register if you would like to contribute to this community. Click here to visit the blog
Eltham and Avery Hill Gardens Society
London SE9 2PE
(please do not use this address for correspondence)