Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Correcting a mistake over Redruth allotments

Every so often, Cornwall Council makes a mistake and it is good to be able to meet with someone affected, apologise and put that mistake right. That happened today in the case of Redruth allotment holder Bob Mills.

Most allotments are managed by town and parish councils and a few by allotment societies. But Cornwall Council has inherited 13 allotment areas across 6 parishes. These had massively different rents being charged for them and it is unfair on allotment holders to be charged different amounts for the same sized plot.

So we are introducing a standard charge of £50 per standard allotment with proportionately higher or lower charges for big or small plots. In order to cover our administration costs which are the same regardless of plot size, we will have a minimum charge of £25. We have decided not to increase charges all in one go, but to standardise them over a couple of years to ease any increases.

Unfortunately, in the case on Mr Mills and his fellow allotment holders in Redruth, we failed to take account of the small size of their plots. So they were being faced with an increase in charge from £27.50 a year to £50 over two years despite their plots being less than half standard size.

Today I met with Mr Mills and was able to give him the good news that, rather than increase his charge to £50, we were actually going to cut it slightly to £25. I also apologised on behalf of the council for our mistake and the anguish caused by it.

The other action we are going to take is to seek again to pass these allotments (and others we control) onto local towns and parishes. We think they are far better run locally and, if the town or parish is still not interested, then we will consider leasing the plots to a local allotment society if they can run them securely into the future. It would then be up to these local bodies to set the rental charges themselves.

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