Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Green Tax 6 - Let he who grants concessions pay the price

For those far flung readers I hope you don't mind being dragged into the minutiae of grubby Edinburgh politics for another post.  This information has to be disseminated as quickly as possible locally and this is the only affordable medium I have to hand.

Our Council has decided that Edinburgh Allotment holders, traditionally including some of the poorest citizens, are ripe for harvesting. To put matters in perspective, City of Edinburgh Council recently allocated £30,000 to commisioning portraits of the last two provosts ("mayors"), they have also allocated millions to a tram project that after 5 years has still to deliver one fare(!),  yet they view it as unthinkable that they pay £2,000  towards the upkeep of allotments (community gardens) in this city. In fact they will be milking £100,000 from their greenest and most hard working citizens by 2015 !!!



And here is my reply:


12 comments:

  1. Looks maddening to me! Over here we have Community Gardens and i don't know how they are, or are not, protected by any laws (i don't belong to any). Whether or not, over here they'd simply be seized by some form of Imminent Domain and turned into a useless park that nobody uses with hideous and overpriced architecture- a similar thing happened in a town nearby.

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  2. An excellent response Mal...I hate the fact that when a situation like this is addressed they miss out all the points that they cannot validate.

    I wait in anticipation for your reply.

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  3. Well done!

    Perhaps you annoyed them by comparing with Glasgow ;D

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  4. One thing is sure, the text of that letter came from another quarter. The use of language bears no relation to the communications on our site noticeboard!

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  5. Yep Linda, those yellow bellied beurocrats with legal qualifications, and the Chief Executive to whom the original complaint was addressed, are all hiding behind our one trusty Allotment Officer!!!

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  6. Looks like our council are planning a 100% rise - I've contacted our NSALG rep to see what they think!

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  7. Isn't dealing with government fun?!? Wow.. this is over the top. They spent how much on portraits? So sorry about this - hope it doesn't take away from your enjoyment of the garden.

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  8. Looks like this is going to run and run... I am interested in the "concessions" - who gets those? Surely if they dropped the 50% concession then rents could be reduced for the rest. I've never heard of concessions for rent - most curious. I'm feeling more and more charitable towards my own council, where our increases have been rather more affordable, thankfully. Keep at it.

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  9. Concessions (a 50% discount) are offered to those who qualify for state benefit including the Old Age Pension. As stated in my letter over 50% of Edinburgh Allotment capacity is rented on this basis. As, for a few years now, a policy has been adopted of dividing vacant plots into half plots before they are offered to new allotmenteers the number of allotment holders receiving a concession may be proportionately higher, or lower, depending on whether more full plot holders are on a discount, or more half plot holders are. (Crikey that sounds like Donald Rumsfeld) The fact remains that in revenue terms half the plots attract the full rate and half gather the 50% rate.

    If you have a policy of making allotments income match allotment costs then it means that the concession is paid for by both the concession and (by double) the full rate payers paying a higher rate. In the extreme case - if everyone was on a concession the concessionary rate would be the real rate and anybody not entitled to a concession would then be paying double the going rate if they decided to take up a plot!

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  10. When you compare the allotment situation to the trams fiasco (don't get me started!), the whole thing makes our Embra Council look like a shower of incompetent dunderheids.

    Just out of curiosity, what do the cooncil actually DO at allotments? With regard to upkeep, I mean? (Excuse my ignorance; I've not got an allotment.)

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  11. Hi Croila. The Council do one really important thing: They don't sell off the allotment sites to developers!!! (Well not in the last decade.)

    They have a full time Allotment Officer and our rents pay his wages. He supervises all the Council Sites in Edinburgh, although his masters are very keen on sites goin "self managed". This doesn't mean that the Council are no longer in charge - so I don't really know what it means. In practise a group of allotment holders at each site start laying down the law to their neighbours and saying who stays and who gets kicked off, rather than the Council doing this. It's a recipe for local conflict. (There has been the odd shed burnt down). So I'm happy for the Council to "run" the allotments - to maintain the perimeter fencing, empty the communal rubbish and intervene when problems arise. In return I will expect to pay a fair rent for the purpose. The current exercise is about squeezing as much revenue as can be squeezed from Edinburgh allotment holders and nothing more!

    p.s. I like your site. Impressive salad comming on!

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  12. Ah. Thanks Mal, that's interesting. The rent thing sounds a bit of a pain I must say, and it's no surprise that you say they're trying to squeeze as much revenue as possible from allotment-holders. Sign of the times, I guess ... :-( I can just see local politics getting rather heated over this, oh dear.

    PS: The salad is getting bigger and bigger!

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