Allotment deal sows seeds for the future

Oxford Mail: Witney Allotments Association secretary Maggie Perrin, front, and chairman Andy Howells at the Lakeside allotments in Ducklington Lane. Picture: OX51873 Ric Mellis Witney Allotments Association secretary Maggie Perrin, front, and chairman Andy Howells at the Lakeside allotments in Ducklington Lane. Picture: OX51873 Ric Mellis

ALLOTMENT holders in Witney hope to reduce rents, running costs and waiting lists after finally taking over control of sites around the town.

Witney Allotment Association has now signed an agreement to lease three sites – in Lakeside, Hailey Road and Newland – from Witney Town Council.

The association will manage the rents, plot allocation, maintenance and waiting lists for the 175 plots.

Association secretary Maggie Perrin said: “We are very pleased and very relieved. It has been three years since we first mooted the idea.

“It has been a lot of hard work getting it all together but we have got an excellent committee and we’re really looking forward to the coming year.

“We thought it was important to do this, because we thought we could, in the long term, make it cheaper for allotment holders and be able to organise more things for them.

“We belong to the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners, so we get reduced prices for seeds.

“In time, we would also like to buy manure and compost collectively, so that we get cheaper rates on them.

“It will also be cheaper for allotment holders, because we do not have administrative overheads – the association are all volunteers and all the admin work costs nothing.

“But, most importantly, we want to work with tenants to see what they want and see how we can provide it.”

The association also hopes to cut the waiting list for plots in the town, which two years ago stood at about 200 people and is now at 118, and also reduce the cost of renting plots at Lakeside.

Lakeside currently costs £44 to rent a plot for a year, compared with fees of £13.30 at the Newland and Hailey Road allotments.

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Town council clerk Sharon Groth said: “The council considered that the new management scheme will give greater autonomy to the allotment association and plot-holders in how the allotments are run, including rent and control of the waiting lists.

“Self-management has been very effective on other sites and I’m sure this will prove to be a positive experience for all concerned.”

The council owns the freeholds of all three sites and will retain ultimate responsibility for them.

It has also retained management control of four allotment plots off Park Road, because the land is not owned by the council.

  • For more information about the Witney Allotment Association and information about how to join the waiting list for a plot, see wix.com/witneyallotments/waa

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