It has been suggested that plotholders were silly to fear a 400% increase in rents. In fact that is just about what happened at Hythe Eaton Lands alloments, where in 2012 the folowing was the state of play, as seen amongst the comments on blog 'Allotment Garden':
"Christopher Attwood @ 10:37 am Allotment holder
Eaton Lands Allotment
We have just been sent our annual fee for our allotment. Last year we paid £42.00 for an 8.55 perch allotment area. The fee this year has risen to £85.00, over 100%.
Four years ago we were paying £22.00 and in 2010 it rose to £42.00. Almost another 100% The whole thing has become a joke and the local council are exploiting the situation with impunity.
What was once an enjoyable and affordable occupation is now turning into a worrisome expense.
In particular the case of Leeds tenants who took their council to the High Court and won a judicial review saying that the proposed increases in rent were illegal. Click here to go to the nsalg website with their report and here to go to a report on a website titled, appropriately, 'Local Government Lawyer'
Here is Leeds Council's own report (boring but important) and an August 2014 report by the solicitors involved
In Eastleigh, a judge ruled that rent increases considerably less than those proposed by their council were illegal, and the council was faced with the rpospect of refunding plotholders. The proposed rise was only from £5 to £8 per rod, as opposed to the suggested increse to £21.32 on the survey. Click here for the 2012 newspaper report and here for a BBC news report on the court case. However, that case rumbled on and the coucil appealed . . . I'm still looking for the final outcome.
Here is a report from Bolton about a similar case - agian the proposed increase was nothing like what Ashford Borough Council has suggested. Bolton plotholders were pretty annoyed, here is what they had to say.
Hyndburn in Lancashire were faced with a steep rise - still much less that Ashford suggests - here is what happened in the Lancashire Telegraph in 2012 and here (interesting reading) is Hyndburn Council's own review. Note that they also sent their survey to everyone on the waiting list.
In nearby Rother District Council a similar question has been raised - you will note that even with the proposed increase the council was still subsidising the allotments at an average of £90 a plot.
Preston council proposed a rise of 33% last year to howls of pain; other councils are also threatening big rises, although none as high as ABC's suggested 425%. Blackpool Federation of Allotment Associations suggests it is a ploy to make people give up or split their plots. This amateur newsletter makes sobering reading.
Here is a document from Christchurch and East Dorset telling councillors how NOT to word their discussion of price increases. It makes interesting reading, although clearly our local chaps didn't see it before they wrote the survey.
Here is a nice article on a website titled 'Don't Lose The Plot' which sets out the arguments clearly.
The current legal position may have changed since some of these reports were written. We will of course be looking into what the state of affairs is right now.