Thursday 27 January 2011

Green Tax 3 - A letter to the City of Edinburgh Council

I'm paying my allotment rent today:

City of Edinburgh Council
Services For Communities - Parks
Business Centre C3
4 East Market Street

Att Ian Woolard, Allotment Officer

27 January 2011

Dear Ian,

I have today received your invoice for £70.00 for Plot 15 at Lady Road, and now forward my cheque for £18.40 made up of the Association Fee of £2.50 and the first quarterly rental payment of £16.90. Three further quarterly payments will follow in a timely manner.

While the option for quarterly payment has been available for Scottish allotment rents over £1 since the 1950 Allotment Act (Scotland) I have not until now felt the need to invoke it. With the rent rises in the last five years, and those already line up for the next three, I now wish to exercise my right to do so.

Yours sincerely

The reason I have titled this series of posts Green TAX is because, in Edinburgh, EXTRA TAXES are being raised from allotment holders (In addition to the Council Tax we already pay). This turns the traditional ethos under which allotments were set up right on its head.

Here's the FEDAGA  2009 proposal to the Council:

Keep an eye on that bottom line. With detailed costings they are converting a subsidy of £8,425 into a tax surplus of £6,695 within 5 years (and pushing their members' annual rent from an already inflated £70 to £100 in the process.)  Guess what the Council bought it!

In their first Allotment Strategy published in 2002 (Cultivating Communities) the Council proposed that when setting rents the following comparability factors should be taken into account:

- the level of allotment rents in the rest of Scotland and the scale in England

- costs of other outdoor recreational or leisure activities provide by the authority.

Neither of these two factors has in fact been taken into account. Edinburgh rents are far in excess of the national average (this year they are £33.50 in Glasgow) and in England. (...and incidentally those across the USA)

Charges for other leisure facilities have gone up but by nothing like allotment fees.

My protest is, I admit, a token gesture. I hope it is one that other Edinburgh allotment holders will adopt too. 


  1. Has the council justified why the rent is so much more expensive in Edinburgh than Glasgow and other places?

  2. Huge difference between the two cities, I suppose they don't feel they need to justify this.

  3. It's annoying because they can get away with it...too many people are scared or can't be bothered to make a stand which leaves the few that are prepared to with nothing except being told they can leave I suppose.

    You have probably took one of the few routes you can Mal...Let us know if you get a response!!

  4. My problem is Mal that after a serious altercation with the allotments officer and various other members of the council I think if I stirred things up now we would end up plotless.

    The trouble is with waiting lists as they are the balls are all in their court but I still wish you luck in your campaign.

    As Tanya says other people will agree as they did with me but in the end just don't back you up so you are left being the bad guy!!!

  5. What I'm not understanding, with my non-economist's brain, is why I'm paying a lot more and getting a lot less for the money. Oh, wait, I know - I'm paying partly for last year's LENGTHY repointing work on a section of the site wall that borders Warriston Crematorium. The 2 council workmen were there for weeks, with a routine consisting of 1. reading the Sun. 2. having a cup of coffee. 3. doing a little light pointing. 4. making just on the borderline sexist comments in my direction. 5. reading the Sun (taxing vocabulary, I know). And so on, day after day.

    What I also don't get is the uneven distribution of resource across the various sites. Or perhaps I do: we're not full of articulate lawyer and accountant types on their hereditary plots, as at a certain site on the north side of the city. And we're not on the edge of a housing estate with multiple social intervention strategies.

    Will be interested to hear how you get on with IW. I am meantime staring at my invoice in disbelief.

  6. Wow.. I had no idea. I'm so sorry to hear this.. crazy, as you're doing something that is beneficial on so many levels. I hear the waiting lists are very long as well..

  7. I have a friend in Scotland who is also having strong words with his Council over their increases
    He is quoting the case between Harwood vs Banstead and Reigate
    It states that the council can not discriminate between other types of leisure facilities, such as bowling greens and leisure centres. It was based on the difference in the price increases

  8. So, Darren, how do you know Frank Taylor?

    There is a large discrepancy between the legal position and how things operate. The Councils are allowing themselves anything they want unless people like Frank stand up and challenge them in court. The local authorities have legal departments and deep enough pockets (from our taxes) to go to court.

    I've been planning a further post - once I get a further reply from Edinburgh Council

    In the meantime everyone should see:

    1. Hi Mal. Clicked on your email button my computer wont access. How can people make contact with .you. Regards Joan

    2. Hi Joan. Even though this blog is on ice (ran out of space) should still come up on my profile. Thanks for pointing this out. Mal