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Fight to save South View allotments
LABOUR councillors are campaigning against plans to decommission a former allotments site – claiming that the borough is going against the wishes of local residents.
The councillors say the council has not “fulfilled the criteria” to decommission the site in South View and they maintain that there is a demand for allotments, with 400 people on a waiting list for one.
A forward plan published in July shows the key decisions likely to be taken by the council between August and November this year.
Included in this is a decision to approve an application to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to remove the statutory allotment status, and provide allotments elsewhere in the town.
However, Labour councillors Laura James , Paul Harvey and George Hood said the council has not consulted with the local community about this, and they fear that the alternative allotment provision would be too far away for residents in South View to get to.
In 2010, residents were consulted on a number of options for the land. These were for it to be left as it is, used for formal open space, be developed as houses, or used for houses and a park.
But the Labour councillors argue that there was no option to return the allotments back to their former use. Instead, the council went with the option to use the site for houses and a park.
Cllr James said: “The council asked people whether they wanted a park, but when 80 per cent came back and said yes, the council told people that option was too expensive. So why give people that option in the first place? Over 90 per cent of people opposed the loss of the open space to housing, but this is exactly the option the council chose.”
Cllr Harvey added: “Even if the council is successful, and we hope they won’t be, we will fight this every step of the way. They have to replace all of those allotments within 10 minutes walking distance. There are 90 plots on the site.”
The forward plan said further consultation will be held once the details are “worked up” and there will also be discussions with the Allotment Association, allotments managers and representatives and residents.
A decision will be made by the Cabinet on October 30. Kevin Jaquest, head of resources at the council, said the decision was made to use the land for houses and a park in July 2010, and added: “Part of the work following this decision included preparing an application to the Department for Communities and Local Government for the release of the former allotment site on the understanding that a programme of replacement allotment provision would be implemented elsewhere in the town.”
He said a report on the decommissioning will go to the economic prosperity and performance overview and scrutiny committee on September 13.