Sunday 7 October 2012

Gardening 267 Golf 6

In its first Allotment Strategy: Cultivating Communities(2002) City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) adopted the following comparability factors:
  • The level of allotment rents in the rest of Scotland and the scale in England
  • costs of other outdoor recreational or leisure activities provided by the authority.

The second of these factors was underpinned  by the  court case of  Harwood  v Reigate & Banstead Borough Councils in the High Court Chancery Division when Mr Harwood challenged a 300% rent rise and succeeded.  The judge ruled that as other amenity charges had not been raised in proportion this was a discriminatory practice and unlawful. The full transcript can be read here

So what has happened to allotment rents?  Since 2005

  • Edinburgh allotment rents have gone up 267% and are set to £100 for 2014.
  • Glasgow rents meantime have tracked the RPI and are currently £33.50
  •  In the same period the cost of an Edinburgh Leisure Card has dropped from £43 to £25 and the following increases made on the sports tariff:

Gym           6%
Swim           39%
Tennis          8%
Golf             6%
Football       32%

So inflation for Edinburgh golfers is 6%.  For allotment gardeners it is 267% !

What happened to the comparability factors?  They have been dropped in a dash for cash. Clearly allotment holders are an easy target. Once FEDAGA sided with the Council the rest of the 1,300 Edinburgh Alltment holders were deprived of a voice.

No one can be in any doubt that City of Edinburgh allotment rent rises are illegal. 

*Note - this post has been updated to include data for the current year


  1. I heard something about a challenge like this too - are you going to point this out to Fedaga.

    I would also expect that council spending on the other amenities is higher than for allotments.

  2. So is there really anything you can do about this Mal...are your fellow plotters as outraged as you and can you make a stand together??

    Really hope this can get sorted and your rents can be dropped to a reasonable amount in keeping with everyone else's!

    1. The first step is to complain to officialdom. I have done this as far as the public Service Ombudsman.
      The second step is to complain to the elected representatives in the Council and the Scottish Parliament. I have contacted them all last week and as yet have not garnered any positive feedback aside from the normal encouraging noises politicians are trained to give out without having to take sides. The third step is to take the Council to Court. I am currently assessing the financial implications of doing this.

  3. Having been told to build our own communal green waste facility at our site because the Council won't do it, I'm puzzled as to what the rise is paying for. All that I can see has changed is that there are more frequent inspection visits by the allotments officer, but it's a mystery to me why some plotholders receive warning letters and others don't, year on year.

  4. Linda, it occurred to me recently that out of the 1,350 Edinburgh Allotmenteers there are just two Edinburgh allotment blogs - yours and mine! (Councillor Burns does a blog which includes some allotment posts - but mostly politics). Sadly this is symptomatic of the Edinburgh allotment scene. A small group of happily retired, well off allotment holders have stepped in to the vacuum of disinterest and declared themselves as our spokesmen and then cosied up to the Council. What have they done with that power - volunteered rent increases, told the Council to forget about funding the subsidy and gone on an empire building allotment expansion program that guarantees the Council (and themselves) newspaper inches. The losers: you and I and the rest of the membership who end up paying well over the odds every year. I worry about what conditions will be like when we reach retirement age - maybe not as benign as for the current generation of retirees who have volunteered our cash at an inflation rate of 333% in under a decade!

    Any other Edinburgh allotmenteers our there?