A political row erupted this week as Sheffield was accused of having some of the most expensive allotments in the country.
Running plots costs more than in other big cities, according to research by local Liberal Democrats, who say this is at odds with encouraging people to grow their own food and keep fit.
Sheffield’s charge of £112 for rent and water on a standard 250 sq ft plot is more than double the average charge of £59 in England’s seven other ‘core’ cities, said the Lib Dems. Birmingham charges £75 and Liverpool, £40, for example.
The opposition group wants a review of allotment charges following rises by as much as 215% over the past two years.
Shadow environment spokesman Coun Joe Otten said: “Allotments are a vital resource, helping local people stay fit and healthy and allowing us to grow more food within the city. Yet the hikes that Labour have pushed through have trebled the price of an allotment and put Sheffield on the map as the most expensive allotments city in England.”
But the council’s ruling Labour group said the figures for other cities’ rents did not include water. “It’s outrageous for the Lib Dems to make accusations like this using their misleading figures,” said cabinet member Jack Scott.
Fees were raised in response to “huge cuts” resulting from “Nick Clegg’s decisions”, but allotment holders with disabilities or on a lower income were protected so they are paying less than under the Liberal Democrats, around 24p a week. These rates are “amongst the lowest in the country”.