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Allotments: councils breaking the law'

PUBLISHED: 13:56 07 September 2008 | UPDATED: 08:27 28 March 2014

The chairman of a national  allotments organisation has hit out at local authorities that are flouting the law by refusing to provide sufficient plots - and he called on the Government to take action over the issue.

The chairman of a national  allotments organisation has hit out at local authorities that are flouting the law by refusing to provide sufficient plots – and he called on the Government to take action over the issue.

Alan Rees, chairman of the National Association of Allotments and Leisure Gardeners, told CS: "At the end of the day local authorities are blatantly breaking the law. They are not providing sufficient allotments. Some are closing waiting lists. What is the Government doing about this?"

Mr Rees was speaking out as pressure grows nationwide for more allotment plots so people can grow their own food. There are currently estimated to be as many as 100,000 people on allotment waiting lists.

The pressure is partly driven by the rising cost of food, but also by greater awareness of healthy eating and concern about reducing 'food miles'.

The1908 Allotments Act places a statutory duty on councils to provide a sufficient number of allotments when requested by a letter from ‘six resident registered parliamentary electors or ratepayers’.

But many councils sold off allotment land after the war and in recent years many sites have been sold for development. The Local Government Association says as many as 200,000 plots have been lost. Now many councils admit they are unable to meet the demand.
 Mr Rees said that in Sheffield alone there are 1,500 people on the waiting list. Plymouth City Council – with a waiting list of 700 – has recently announced the provision of 20 'mini-plots'. Mr Rees poured scorn on this - saying the statutory definition of an allotment plot is 300 sq yards.

We asked the Department for Communities and Local Government for a response, but did not receive one.

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