Greens call-in decision on future of city’s allotments

6 September 2017

Three of the city’s Green Group of councillors have called in for further discussion on 11th Sept a decision to transfer all of the city’s 18 Council owned allotment sites out of Council management, to be run by a new organisation called York Allotments Charitable Incorporated Organisation. The new charity will be run by a committee of trustees drawn from allotment holders and a later Executive decision will see the land transferred to the new organisation via a lease agreement.

One of the call-in members, Guildhall councillor, Denise Craghill, said,

"This is a major change to the management of the city’s allotments and we believe it merits full public scrutiny. A committee of trustees with an impressive range of experience has come forward so far, but there are only 5 of them and there is neither a draft governing document, nor a draft business plan included in the papers for the scrutiny meeting. We want to get assurance that the new organisation will be resilient and able to ensure that allotments in the city flourish into the future. It is very important that they remain affordable and accessible to everyone and that current allotment holders, as automatic members of the new organisation, know how they can report problems or influence policies. There is also an option in the paper to recommend keeping allotments management inside the Council, but there is no explanation of the implications of this. My understanding is that the aim is to save £17,000 off Council budgets – the balance between current rental income and current costs. This isn’t a huge amount in a Council budget, but is potentially quite a lot for a new independent organisation to save. Either option potentially points to future rental increases. At the same time, there may well be other advantages to running the allotments independently of the Council, but all this should be made clearer."

The scrutiny paper is on the Council website and the meeting is an opportunity for members of the public, including allotment holders to register to speak and share their views and any concerns by contacting democratic.services@york.gov.uk tel. 01904 551088 by 5pm on Friday 8th September.’ EXTRA INFO The decision is set to be made by the Council’s Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Tourism on 25th Sept. with a further decision to lease the allotment sites to the new organisation set for Executive on 19th October. The call-in means the changes will first be discussed by the Council’s Economy and Place Scrutiny Committee on Monday 11th September at 4.30pm, giving councillors and members of the public an opportunity to scrutinise the plans available here.


 

The reasons given for the call-in by Cllrs D’Agorne, Craghill and Kramm are:

‘(i) The successful provision and potential expansion of allotments is an important issue for the future of York as a sustainable One Planet city. It is a key part of a local food growing culture in the city. It sits well with objectives under our Health and Well Being Strategy to promote healthy eating, community activity and involvement and tackle social isolation. It can play a part in education for sustainability and resilience. Allotments can also play a role in providing cheap, healthy food for people suffering social disadvantage.

(ii) The proposal is a major change to the management of allotments in the city, putting them outside direct Council control and as such our call-in is in order to ensure wider public debate before the final decisions are made. We are aware that some consultation with allotment holders has taken place, but as ward councillors we are also aware that many allotment holders are still either totally unaware or very unclear about what is happening.’

Further information contact Cllr Denise Craghill tel. 07952 120752