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Protest over hike in Sheffield allotment fees

Dan Bilton, Walkley Bank Allotment Society Chairman, protests outside Sheffield Town Hall at the cost of having an allotment in Sheffield

Dan Bilton, Walkley Bank Allotment Society Chairman, protests outside Sheffield Town Hall at the cost of having an allotment in Sheffield

Gardeners who fear a further hike in allotment fees will make plots in Sheffield the country’s most expensive have continued their fight with a town hall protest.

This year rents went up 60 per cent to £50, £70, and £100 - and next year prices are set to increase to £80, £112 and £160 depending on size, with discounts for many pensioners cut by half.

The demonstration was organised by Dan Bilton, chairman of Walkley Bank Allotment Society, together with Sheffield Allotment and Leisure Gardeners’ Federation.

Mr Bilton - who waved a placard reading ‘Sheffield - probably the most expensive allotments in the world’ - said he was ‘alarmed’ at the price of plots.

“Sheffield allotments are the most expensive in the region, and if the rent increase is applied we will a have some of the most expensive allotments in the country,” he added.

Pensioners currently have a 50 per cent discount, but from April 2014 it will be cut to 25 per cent, unless they are on benefits or pension credits, when a 75 per cent reduction will apply.

The change will see pensioners paying between £60 and £120.

Sheffield Council said higher prices were necessary to fund an expansion of allotments, and added there was a large waiting list for plots.

Peter Sides, secretary of Rodney Hill allotments, Wisewood, said: “The reason the council gives is that it has absolutely no money, but it would be better postponing the plans to expand, and keep the tenants it already has.

“What is the point of building new allotments when people are giving up at existing sites?”

Previously, a report to the council’s Allotment Advisory Group said the authority was facing ‘significant pressure’ to meet demand and offer more space for people to grown their own food.

Half of those surveyed were in favour of paying more rent, the report added.

 

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