We could be in the fortunate position in Gateshead of being able to reverse the fall in the number of allotments. Two years ago the Council decided to get rid of 100 plots, nearly 10% of those in Council ownership. That's the background against which I am working.
I am a trustee of Marley Hill Community Centre and we are in the process of undergoing a community asset transfer. The building is owned by the Durham Miners' Welfare Association and is held in trust by Gateshead Council. The community asset transfer will mean the building is leased to the community association. However, a large amount of land to the rear is also owned by the Welfare Association but held in trust by the Council. It is open green space but otherwise is not used. Once or twice a year the Council cuts a path through it. It would be an ideal location for allotments and community gardens.
I spent a couple of hours walking over the site a few weeks ago and worked up in my mind a few ideas for using the site. I then discussed these with officers from the Council who are looking into the legal aspects of the transfer as the Miners' Association have conditions on what can and cannot go on the land. Last night at the Community Centre management committee meeting we discussed the proposals further and it was agreed that I take the project forward by drawing up more specific plans for the site.
As well as allotments, I will be looking to include community gardens and smaller beds for people who can't take on bigger plots. I am especially keen to get community groups involved. If the project goes ahead, it will help to address demand for allotments in the area and create a great asset for the area.