Allotment charge hikes of 14 per cent for hundreds of plot holders should be reviewed in the light of other fee rises, it’s been claimed.
The cost of renting a plot will go up from 14p per square metre per year to 16p per square metre per year, from next January.
In total 766 tenants will face increases of between £5 and around £20 per year with the minimum plot charge increasing from £35 to £40 per annum based on a plot size of 250 square metres or below.
A consultation carried out with allotment holders back in 2012 found that 83 per cent of respondents agreed regular but small increases in rents was the preferred option to maintaining the service.
Hyndburn’s Conservative group claim this view may now have changed, with residents also facing increased council tax bills and other charges.
However, council bosses insist the charges will be introduced as planned.
Tory group leader Coun Tony Dobson said: “After almost five years it is time that the council meet again with the association and check that this is the way forward that is still agreed by members, and that it is fair and reasonable.
“Although this is not a huge increase, I’m mindful if council tax goes up two per cent and other fees like bowling charges are introduced some people may find themselves paying around £100 extra a year, which is not an insignificant amount for many.”
More than half of tenants will face an increase of £5 a year, 298 will pay £5 to £10 more, 69 will have to find an additional £10 to £20, and ten plotholders will see charge increases of £20 or more.
The proposed price increases will not apply to 202 tenants with raised beds or those with a plot at Meadoway, who were already paying a higher price than others due to site improvements.
Hyndburn council leader Coun Miles Parkinson told the Observer that the charges were part of their policy of a “gentle path to self-sustainability” for all services by 2020/21.
He added: “What has happened with the allotments over a number of years has been a success. It’s not about profit, it’s about covering costs. When you look at the increase it’s in pence.”
Cath Holmes, from the Hyndburn Federation of Allotments, said: “When you look around the area I have friends who have allotments in Nelson and Colne and theirs is around £65, that’s the standard rate - at least at Hyndburn it’s spread fairly across the board.
“Going up slowly in small increments in Hyndburn was the preferred method from the majority of people when they did a consultation exercise.”