Gardeners Call On Public Law Experts To Challenge City Council Decisions
A group of allotment tenants in Leeds have warned the local council’s “unreasonable” proposals to make steep increases to rents and other changes to plot ownership could be a nail in the coffin of the city’s grow-your-own culture, as legal action to challenge the plans is launched.
The Leeds and District Allotment Gardeners Federation (LDAGF), which operates allotments across the city with members also providing produce to local charities for free, is challenging proposals agreed by Leeds City Council in September which will see rents increased but also a reduction in the proportion of the income that associations will retain to maintain sites.
Now, with the help of Irwin Mitchell’s specialist Public Law team, the organisation has this week issued an application in the High Court for a judicial review in opposition to the decision in relation to a series of concerns, including:
• The failure of the council to determine the amount of rent that it is reasonable to expect the allotment holders to pay, in line with Section 10 Allotments Act 1950;
• The expectation that Allotment Associations will be expected to continue to maintain sites to the same level as previously, but without allowing the associations access to the same proportion of rental income for such purposes;
• That the consultation exercise related to the decisions regarding the rental costs and subsidy for allotment gardening was flawed and failed to address all of the proposals the council had put forward.
Ian Wood of the LDAGF, said: “For so many of our members, the allotments they use are about more than gardening – they are a chance for them to be part of a wider community which comes together to both celebrate their interest and do their bit for local charities.
“We appreciate that the council is under a lot of financial pressure. But so are our members. It’s just not right that the council is able to put up the rent very significantly for individual members and at the same time expect the Allotment Associations to continue to maintain the sites to a high standard but without receiving any extra funds.
“A huge number of our members are worried that the decision made by the council, which is supposed to act in our best interests, will destroy all of this. From our national links, we know what Leeds City Council has proposed, compared to other local authorities, is just unreasonable.
“Other cities appear to be embracing the allotment and grow-your-own culture and the BBC is even launching a series in the New Year all about such activities. Interest in allotments has never been higher, yet Leeds City Council seems to be trying to tear our community apart. The wider impact on the community has not been taken into account.”