We don’t dig rising charges

Peter Sides Rodney Hill Allotments .  Peter Sides   in his Rodney Hill Allotment.
Peter Sides Rodney Hill Allotments . Peter Sides in his Rodney Hill Allotment.
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ALLOTMENT charges are set to double as Sheffield Council seeks to cut the amount of subsidy it provides towards running the city’s 3,100 plots.

Currently, Sheffield Council charges allotment holders £35 a year for rent and water on a 250 square metre plot. The fee is one of the lowest in the country – in Bradford and Bristol the charge is £47. Minor increases are set to be implemented in Sheffield from April, bumping the fee to £37.90. Allotment holders will be asked to pay for the year up-front instead of nine months in arrears.

But a report to the council’s allotments steering group proposes that, in 2013/14, charges should rise even higher.

Plots of up to 200 square metres would cost £50, plots of 201 to 300 square metres would cost £70 – and plots bigger than 300 square metres would be £100 a year for rent and water.

The council says half price discounts would be available for pensioners, disabled people, students and those on low incomes.

But Peter Sides, secretary of Rodney Hill Allotments in Loxley and secretary of Wisewood Horticultural Society, said he feared the extra charges will put people off renting plots.

He said: “It’s a heck of a big increase. I have been growing for 25 years and, if you are experienced, you can get a decent return in terms of what you produce. But for someone starting off, it is a large outlay.”

Council subsidy for allotments is more than 70 per cent but Chris Heeley, head of countryside and environment, said the aim was to reduce the subsidy to 45 per cent as the council seeks to make continued budget cuts in the coming years.

He said the discounts included in the plans ‘ensure allotments remain affordable for those on low incomes’.