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Allotment holders facing 25 per cent fee hike over three years

Hyndburn council is facing a £7,000 budget shortfall

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The Baxenden Allotment and Garden Society annual show

Allotment holders in Hyndburn are facing a price hike of at least 25 per cent over the next three years.

The allotment rent charge will be increased from 18p per square metre to 22p in January 2020 and to 23p in January 2021.

The council will also increase the minimum plot rent charge by £5 in each year, taking the fee from £40 up to £50 by the 2021 calendar year.

Council leader Miles Parkinson said the service currently loses more than £7,000 every year and their fees are still at the low end of the spectrum compared to elsewhere.

Speaking at a recent cabinet meeting, he said: “The council is required to give 12 months notice [to allotment holders].

“The council presently makes an annual deficit on the allotments of just over £7,000 each year. The rent rise will ensure the service becomes cost neutral in 2020 and by 2021 will permit the allotment repair budget to be increased to £10,000.

“In comparison with other local authorities, Blackburn with Darwen charge 21p per square metre and Hyndburn is charging 16p. We are still at the lower end of allotment charges.

“It’s not about making a profit, it’s simply covering the costs and also allows money to be set aside for those important repairs.”

Allotment bosses said they receive 3,000 calls and emails, 250 complaints and have to inspect more than 900 plots each year which places a ‘high demand on the service’.

A council report said there are ‘no reasonable alternatives’ and a failure to increase prices would result ‘in the need to achieve cost savings’.

The fee rises will increase the council’s income by £63,000 in 2021, making it cost neutral and providing a surplus for repairs.

Charges for disabled and easy access small raised beds will remain the same at £20. The proposed rent increases were submitted to the Hyndburn Federation of Allotments (HFA) earlier this year.

Cath Holmes, chairperson of the HFA, said: “Allotment rents in Hyndburn still compare very well with those of surrounding boroughs and nationally, where allotments rents can vary enormously and without a consistent, fair approach. They still offer good value for money.”

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A consultation carried out with allotment tenants in 2012 found 83 per cent favoured ‘smaller’ increases rather than a ‘single large increase’.

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