Fear allotment hike will force people out

A BOSTON allotment holder has claimed that a steep increase in rents could force established people off their plots.

Paul Collingwood has been tending two plots at Willoughby Road for more than 10 years, but says that council rent hikes of more than 350 per cent over the next four years may mean he has to give up his plots – and he claims others on the site feel the same way. There will be a 20 per cent premium for people with more than one of the standard 300 square yard plots.

Paul Collingwood is annoyed about the increase in rents at allotments in Boston. He has two plots at Willoughby Road allotments. The council plans to charge a 20 per cent premium for anyone with more than one of the standard sized plots in a bid to create more 'starter plots' for beginners or those who cannot manage a larger plot.

Paul Collingwood is annoyed about the increase in rents at allotments in Boston. He has two plots at Willoughby Road allotments. The council plans to charge a 20 per cent premium for anyone with more than one of the standard sized plots in a bid to create more 'starter plots' for beginners or those who cannot manage a larger plot.

He said he and his fellow plot-keepers feel they are being pushed off the plots they have tended for many years to make way for new people.

Paul said: “They’re trying to force people off.

“I don’t mind paying £68 (the increase for one plot), but why should I pay a premium for having two plots. It’s people on the allotments that have kept them alive by having so many plots.

“A lot of the lads on here are pensioners. They won’t be able to afford this.”

The hike, which is set to come in next year, will mean Paul’s rent will increase from £46 to £160 annually.

He added that years ago plot holders at Willoughby Road were encouraged to take on extra plots as they were not wanted. Now, he claims, many will not be able to afford to keep them on.

However, the council considers that a 300 square yard is sufficient to provide for a family, and anything larger could be used for commercial gain, something Paul claims is not the case.

Jennifer Moore, the authority’s environment and sustainability officer, said: “The council also wanted to increase the number of starter plots and encourage take up from people who would benefit greatly but are not experienced in allotment gardening and finally we do have a duty to deter or reduce the risk of allotments being used as a commercial enterprise.”

She added the overall aim was to create more opportunities for people to take on plots, and reducing plot size was one way to do that.