Letter from Julie Rogers at the council
There still remains a question over the publicising of the survey. Hopefully most people will by now be aware of it, although we are concerned that some people without email have still not seen the posters - do talk to people on your site when you get the chance and make sure they know about it.
Below is most of Julie Rogers' reply. I have removed the part about the sending out of emails as it would not have made sense without publishing the whole correspondence.
"I apologise if you feel question 4 was weighted toward a price increase, please be assured that what we were trying to achieve here was an awareness of the cost of running the provision currently, prior to the full review. We were also trying to establish, if there were to be a price increase would allotment users relinquish their plots, naturally we don’t want empty plots and this needs to be factored into our thinking.
"This is purely a consultation at this stage, the findings of the survey will be reported to the Allotment Forum" (I think she means the Committee) "in June and suggested outcomes to the review will be discussed at that time. Once we have the views of the Allotment Forum we will then take forward recommendations to Cabinet for discussion and approval.
"During the review what has become clear is the high number of relinquished plots following annual in arrears billing. In my view this shows that some allotment users are not considering the time commitment required when taking on an allotment until a payment is required. I believe that by introducing a deposit scheme for new tenants and changing to either payment in advance, or part advance/part arrears payments, this commitment will be considered more fully, reducing the churn of allotments and the amount of resource required in an administrative capacity to respond to that churn. This in turn will drive down cost and enable the waiting list to be reduced to people who really are committed to the allotment provision.
"There is no intention to recommend to Cabinet huge price increases, I can’t rule out that price increases will be needed, but certainly we would recommend that any increase would be carried out in a phased way over a number of years, but we will also be highlighting the Community and Leisure provision to residents and the health and wellbeing value allotments bring."
If the council has no intention to raise rents that much, then the wording of question 4 is to say the least unfortunate. It is quite unambiguous. The full text is as follows:
"4. The current annual charge per perch per annum is £5. In order to break even the annual charge would need to rise to £21.52 per perch per annum. Which of the following options would you support?
A phased increase of £5.00 per perch per annum from April 2016 until the break even cost is reached.
A phased increase over two years, £13.26 per annum per perch from April 2016 and then to £21.52 per annum from April 2017.
A one off increase to £21.52 per perch per annum from April 2016
None of the above, I would give up my plot
By the way, a rod is the same as a perch.
May I remind you that you are all welcome to attend the Committee Meeting on June 3rd at 6.30pm at the Civic Centre. According to the meeting rules, any questions must be put though a member of the committee. As publicity manager I am happy to raise any questions which are sent to me with the request that I do so. The meeting room will only hold a certain number; if more than it will hold turn up unfortunately some will not be able to attend. A larger meeting room is not available that night.