Controversial plans to hike allotment fees have been put on hold by the council. Plot holders across the borough were up-in-arms after bosses announced hikes in charges of up to 700 per cent over five years as part of a £300,000 investment programme.
However, a six-month review of the scheme was announced a week after more than 100 furious allotment holders protested against it at Accrington Town Hall.
Council chiefs say they want more tenant associations to run sites, reducing the cost to the taxpayer, calculated at £240 per plot, or an 80 per cent subsidy each year.
However, the move has been met with a mixed response by opponents of the rises.
Harold Gregson, of Heys allotments in Oswaldtwistle, remains sceptical about the review, pointing out the charges would not have risen for another 12 months.
He said: "I think they want everybody to form associations and get grants, but that’s not easy.
"Most of the plot holders just want to get on with it without any interference.
"If we do what they want us to do they might well raise the rents anyway, so what’s the point?"
Nicola Sleddon, from Huncoat, said tenants there had been considering going self-managed even before the charge increases were announced.
She added: "We want to know more about it."
Conservative leader Coun Peter Britcliffe said he hoped council bosses would ‘come to their senses’ and do a u-turn on the increases.
He added: "I’m delighted that the pressure put on the controlling Labour group by allotment holders and the Conservative group has led to a delay of six months."
Coun Lynn Wilson, who owns an allotment in Great Harwood, said: "It’s the sheer scale of the rises that people objected to. People are generally glad that the council is at least looking at this."
Coun Ciaran Wells, cabinet member for leisure, said ‘extremely positive’ discussions had been held.
He added: "It is only right that we now work with these sites to help devolve control to them.
"Clearly, if we are successful this will reduce the cost of the service to the council.
"Equally, we have a great responsibility to help reduce the burden for the hard working residents of the borough.
"I have listened to everything that has been said since the pricing structure was announced and I feel it is only fair to tenants and the taxpayers of Hyndburn that we explore every possible opportunity to make the service more sustainable for the long term."