Earlier this year, when Gateshead Council proposed a rise of 230% for the allotment rents, a modest tsunami of allotment holders got in touch with me about the severity of the rise. My support for the allotment movement is well known here so the fact people from across the borough contacted me was no surprise. To cut a long story short, the decision on the rent rise was deferred whilst consultation was carried out. I hosted a meeting for allotment holders a couple of months ago so that I could feed their responses into the consultation exercise.
We had expected a decision to come to the council cabinet in June and the last June meeting is on 25th. However, when I looked at the agenda for the meeting (it was available on Wednesday) I found there was no report about allotment rents. I had called a meeting of allotment holders for Thursday 20th June before
I went on holiday and it was too late to cancel it on Wednesday when I read the cabinet agenda. So the meeting went ahead anyway.
As well as discussing the various rent rise scenarios, we also considered how we can set up a Gateshead wide society to promote local food growing, allotments and gardening. We will return to this at a future date but people are keen on the idea and want to push ahead with it.
As I was able to report to the meeting that the allotment rent rise decision will now come to cabinet on 11th July, we have agreed to meet again on the 11th. Hopefully, by then we will also have a set or proposals for creating the local food growers' group (for which we do not yet have a name - though suggestions were made to my by email after the meeting by various people who attended.)