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Anger at plans to increase Richmond allotment charges again
Gardeners are outraged that allotment fees could be increased for the second year running.
Allotment holders across the borough are bracing themselves for about a 5 per cent increase in their bills, after Richmond Council released its proposed new fees and charges for 2014-15.
If the charges are agreed, allotment holders would see their annual rent of £13.50 per 25sq m increase to £14.20.
Concession holders would see charges rise from £6.75 to £7.10 and out-of-borough gardeners would pay £28.40 compared to the current £27 fee.
The proposed increase follows the council’s fee hike of about 46 per cent in October last year, which shocked allotment holders who said they had not been warned of the increase.
Chairman of Borough of Richmond Allotments Group (Brag) Tim McGough said allotment holders’ tenancy agreements included a clause that allowed the council to increase rents at short notice.
He said the proposed increase would hit individuals, especially pensioners or those already struggling financially, but would not raise that much cash for the council.
He said: “I am really concerned. The council increased allotment rents last October by over 46 per cent, which is really bad for people on fixed incomes or pensions.
“Horror upon horror they are suggesting increasing the fees again - this time by about 5 per cent.
“It’s just unbelievable. On the on hand they are raising the fees and on the other we are getting extremely poor service from them. They can’t have it both ways.”
Councillor Pamela Fleming, cabinet member for environment, planning, parks and highways, said the increases were part of a long-term strategy.
She said: “All of these increases up to now have been through the overview and scrutiny committee as this one will.
“It was quite clear in the strategy that a more realistic price for allotments should be brought in gradually.”
The council’s environment, sustainability and community overview and scrutiny committee will comment on the proposed fees at a meeting in York House, Twickenham, on Monday, January 27.
If agreed, the charges will be set by cabinet members before coming into force on April 1.
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