'We're being kept in dark on new rules'

ALLOTMENT holders say they are being left in the dark over a consultation into how new rules will begin.

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Frank McGregor, left, and Robert Gray, who help maintain the school allotment, as well as having their own. Pictures: Nick Ponty
Frank McGregor, left, and Robert Gray, who help maintain the school allotment, as well as having their own. Pictures: Nick Ponty

Glasgow City Council was due to start collecting views and opinions over proposed changes in February.

However, the consultation has been delayed until later this year - but allotment holders say they have not been told what is happening.

Robert Gray, who has a plot at the Balornock Community Allotments in Drumbottie Road and also helps run a school project there, said he had concerns over proposed changes.

The 42-year-old said: "We are customers and we want to be part of any consultation process and we want to be told when they are happening.

"We are worried the new rules could come in without us knowing anything about it.

"We thought the consultation had already happened because we saw it online - but no one has ever spoken to us. There is no direct communication."

Mr Gray said he was concerned over sensitive issues, such as the cost of renting growing space.

The rate he pays for his plot is about £34 a year.

A row broke out in Edinburgh in 2012 after the council agreed with leaders from the Federation Of Edinburgh And District Allotments to increase the rent to £100 this year. It had been £30.

Allotment rules and regulations have not been updated in Glasgow since 1957.

Mr Gray said: "Things like price increases are extremely important to us.

"We want to know at every stage what is going on in case something like this happens and we are suddenly having to pay more."

Frank McGregor, 57, who also has an allotment at Balornock and lives nearby, has rented plots around Glasgow for 40 years.

He said: "If the rent is put up it defeats the purpose of having an allotment.

"A lot of people would have to give it up. They would not be able to afford one.

"Here we grow our own vegetables, we have leeks, potatoes, tomatoes, the list is endless. Last year I had 32 tomato plants and 64 types of peppers."

The pair volunteer with the Balornock Urban Garden Scheme project, which was set up 10 years ago.

Pupils from nearby Balornock Primary use the allotment to learn how to grow food and care for plants and gardens as part of their education.

Meanwhile, Mr Gray said he was preparing to take a petition to the Scottish Parliament to campaign for rights for allotment tenants.

He said: "I feel the allotments are lawless. There are no rules as soon as you get through the gates. We do not have any rights at all.

"I want Parliament to introduce legislation for allotment holders."

The city's Land And Environ­mental Services manages 16 allotment sites (700 plots). There are also nine privately managed allotment sites in Glasgow (626 plots).

There are estimated to be about 1000 people on allotment waiting lists.

The council said there would be a consultation on allotments in the second half of the year, with a view to making allotment provision financially and environmentally sustainable for current and future users of the service.

A city council spokeswoman said: "The new Allotments Strategy for 2014-2018 will not come into effect until post-October 2014, after the enactment of the Community Empowerment Bill. There will be a period of consultation with allotment owners before this."

rachel.loxton@ eveningtimes.co.uk

Local government

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