YET again you have chosen to highlight only one person’s opinion regarding the tenancy agreements for the council-run allotments.
Purely for the sake of balance, the current tenancy agreement came about through Mr Rock’s refusal to cultivate his plot, where, in the letters page of this newspaper, he often made reference to ‘the council’s labour camp’ when talking about the allotments, or his altercations with council officers, making his intention not to cultivate his plot crystal clear.
I must also add, that the council’s subsequent handling of the whole affair, was less than edifying.
The present agreement was the result of a consultation document, that was sent out, in its draft form, to every allotment tenant in the borough, inviting comment and feedback, thereby giving anyone who had an issue regarding their tenancy, the chance to raise concerns about or influence the final agreement.
I for one can testify that as a direct result of feedback I supplied, the final agreement was modified. I have yet to meet, or hear about, any tenant who has not signed the new agreement, or has been evicted as a direct result, which would probably indicate that the present tenancy agreement is acceptable to the overwhelming majority of plot holders.
The new tenancy agreement is, to all intents and purposes, identical to the old one, with the exception to the clause regarding levels of cultivation, which has been clarified.
Apart from the fact that many, myself included, felt there was no need for a new tenancy agreement, everyone I know had no issues in signing it.
It should also be pointed out that once a tenant has been given notice to improve by the council, they are allowed three months to cultivate a small percentage of their plot in order to indicate to council officers, that they intend to continue working their plot.
In my experience, the council is sympathetic to individual plot holder’s circumstances, such as poor health and make the appropriate allowances. If no attempt is made to dig over a few square metres, the council can only assume that the tenant has given up his plot.
With a waiting list for plots to become available for cultivation, this is a totally appropriate course of action for the council to take and is accepted by the majority of tenants, as holding on to a plot you have no intentions of cultivating has to be seen as selfish and is depriving another resident the chance of having their own plot and enjoying the benefits that renting an allotment can bring.
Now that we are in the situation where the council has the tenancy agreement it feels necessary and Mr Rock has his ‘victory’ perhaps a degree of common sense might prevail, allowing everyone to get on with the business of growing vegetables.
May I suggest that in future your journalistic energies are concentrated on the positive aspects of being an allotment tenant, where the vast majority are happy to cultivate their plots to the best of their abilities and enjoy the benefits of social interaction, healthy exercise and fresh produce, rather than using their tenancy as a blunt instrument with which to attack the council for their own personal agenda.
Allotments are a council-run amenity for any resident who wants one and is prepared to put in the necessary time and work, therefore having an allotment is a responsibility, not a right.