Allotment Associations & Horticultural Groups in Harrow, Middlesex

Allotment Strategy in Harrow - Index

1. Update 2014

2. Update 2011

3. Update 2010

4. Original Allotment Strategy meeting 2009

Harrow Allotment Strategy

Update 2014

On Monday Jan 27th 2014 a meeting between Harrow's Allotment Site Reps., Harrow in LEAF Reps. and the Council was held at Harrow Civic Centre. In attendance were the Leader of the Council Susan Hall, chairing the meeting with Dave Corby and Eddie Slavin from Public Realm, Harrow Council.

A summary of the progress made by Harrow Council since Susan Hall's previous time in office was presented. These included increased funding for the allotment improvements, security, locked gates also the expansion of Kenton Recreation Ground and Chandos Grove sites.

The following items were discussed:

• Standard Plot letting sizes are 253 sq meters= (10 poles)
5 poles will be offered to new allotmenteers to help reduce the waiting list times

• Plot Numbering will be the allotment holder's responsibility to make sure the wooden stake should be sited at the front right corner of each plot so it can be clearly visible when inspections take place. The numbering will remain as it is at present. (If you do make a sign, maybe you could remember to include a reference to Harrow in LEAF and our website to help spread the word! Click here to see an example).

• Dave Corby reported on Harrow's "Access Harrow" website.
There will be an introduction of specific email addresses for allotment site reps. This is in order that site reps personal email inboxes are not overloaded with allotment business. This email account will enable site reps. to communicate directly with Harrow Council and also enable site reps to report any problems quickly.
There was a suggestion of a forum on Harrow Council website so new allotment holders can debate and ask questions on what grows best in what kind of conditions.
If waiting times are higher on one site, showing the amount of vacancies on other sites, to enable people who are keen to get an allotment to choose where they want to go.

• Notice to Quit
Notification to tenants that their agreements are being ended and they are to quit their plots are managed by Eddie Slavin.
Those tenants are sent an official letter by the Council giving 28 days notice that a re inspection will take place.

• Non Cultivation of allotment plots
Once identified that a plot is not being tended, a grace letter is sent by the Council requesting that the plot holder tidies their plot within 30 days.
If this is not done to a satisfactory level then the next step is a Notice to Quit letter which then gives the tenant a further 28 days to get the plot up to a reasonable standard.
Harrow Council is erring on the side of lenience more than dictatorial in their approach.
Obviously if allotment holders are ill or unable to keep the plot in good order they should be in touch with council or the site rep so no unpleasant letters land on the doormat causing distress.

• The application for allotment plot waiting list in the Borough of Harrow, as at January 2014, is 699 applications on the waiting list with 96 plots vacant across Harrow.
These figures are going to be corrected as it seems there may be duplication with people applying many times. Site Reps will do there own inspection in the coming months to give the Council accurate and up to date information so they can reconcile their data.

• Offers to New plot holders A person on the waiting list when offered an allotment will have 2 weeks to give a reply, if no reply is received then the next person on the waiting list will get the offer.

• Self Governing of allotment sites. This was discussed and all Site Reps were in agreement that this was not a feasible option for the Borough of Harrow.

• Changes to annual invoicing
Invoicing will take place this year in March 2014 for the previous year (in arrears)
Another invoice is to be issued in June 2014 for the current year, covering April to June 2014 then July to March 2015
Invoicing will then be for the current year in future and not in arrears. A price increase for 2015 is planned. There are actually 30 days to pay, and not 7 days to pay as stated on the current invoice.

Harrow Council are working in conjunction with all Reps on updating the Allotment Rules for Harrow. The new rules have already been reviewed paragraph by paragraph and the site reps have had their input into the final draft which was discussed with only a few amendments being required. These will be coming to force probably early summer 2014 after the document has been to the Council's Legal Department and then sealed for 3 months

On the whole it was considered by all attendees as a very productive 2 hour meeting and hopefully we shall all be able to have a successful growing season 2014.

Update 2011

Harrow in LEAF’s Allotment Protection Sub-Committee, chaired by Mike Beech (Rep for Streamside allotments), began dialogue and a series of meetings with Dave Corby, the officer in charge of parks and open spaces within Harrow.

Items discussed were the Councils figures on the number of allotments in the borough. Harrow in LEAF has continually insisted that these figures are wrong and that the number of allotments per head is actually far lower than is stated. Mr Corby was given Harrow in LEAF’s figures and accepted that the council’s figures may indeed be incorrect. Partly this was due to a ‘Half-Plot’ being identified as a plot, which had raised the figures considerably.

Another item discussed was the allotment rules and Mr Corby agreed to meet again with the group to discuss amendments and alterations with the view to implementation. Harrow in LEAF’s chairman Georgia Weston praised Mike Beech for the fantastic amount of work and effort he had put in as Chairman of the sub-committee, and the sub-committee as a whole, for running such an effective campaign to help secure the future of allotments and in maintaining “effective dialogue” with Harrow Council.

Update 2010

There was a further meeting of a group of newly identified (by Harrow Council) allotment representatives in 2010. These included some of Harrow in LEAF’s longstanding, organised allotment site reps, and some self-appointed representatives who, it was hoped, would be working with other plot holders on their prospective sites. Georgia Weston, Harrow in LEAF’s Chairman was also invited to attend.

The new allotment rules were discussed and the general consensus was that they were too long and might be difficult to apply. There was some heat within the room as it seemed that the Councillor in attendance may have expected to preside over the meeting, pass on her opinions and that these would just be readily accepted by all in attendance.

One or two reps, who had great historical knowledge of allotments in Harrow, took the opportunity to air their opinion of the perceived mismanagement of allotment sites within the borough and a plethora of discussion emerged, leading to some, quite heated, exchange.

“I had some sympathy for the poor woman [Cllr. Susan Hall], who bore the brunt of the misgivings, which were probably mainly due to the feeling by of those present, that their voices had been largely ignored by Harrow Council over the years – but I think on the whole people left the meeting feeling that there was some real progress made”.

Unfortunately the jubilation was short lived as no further meetings were scheduled, the allotment rules were not re-drafted, or put into place and tenants continue to get incorrect and/or late bills.

Allotment Strategy – Round Table Workshop 2009
(Updated to June 2011)

Let me start by saying that there was an excellent turnout at this meeting. The Member's Lounge at Harrow Civic Centre was packed full of allotment holders from across the borough.

Dave Corby the Public Realm Service Manager began the meeting by briefly describing the advantages and benefits of owning an allotment and how important allotments were to people’s general well being. He then introduced Councillor Susan Hall who is the portfolio holder for Environment and Community Safety.

Harrow Civic Centre

Councillor Hall stated that she had provisionally obtained; "in excess of fifty thousand pounds", for capital
expenditure for this financial year to be spent on allotments. The Councillor further explained that the aims of the
meeting were to find out what problems the allotments have and to determine the most important problems; "to
decide where to spend the money"
. She also stated that a further aim was to obtain; "a consensus view on
allotment strategy"

The people present were then divided into groups, each group representing several allotment sites. The groups
listed the problems with the existing Council allotment service and then decided which of these were the most

The most important issues raised were:

1 – The lack of a specific annual ring fenced budget set at an adequate level for spending on
– (without regular protected funding it will not be possible to implement any improvement
in the allotment service provided by Harrow Council).

2 - Poor maintenance of allotment sites – (this includes improving security by repairing gates and
fencing and providing access by cutting down trees, bushes, wild brambles etc).

3 - Poor administration and communication – (the current situation consists of late and inaccurate
billing, incorrect data regarding the letting of plots and difficulty knowing who to speak to).

4 - A total lack of management of allotment sites – (if each allotment site was inspected at least twice
a year by a Council employee they would be able to monitor the state of fencing, gates, invasive trees etc
and see which plots were not being worked by tenants).

Despite Councillor Hall stating that one of the aims of the meeting was to obtain; "a consensus view on allotment
, most of the issues raised had nothing to do with strategy, but more to do with day to day issues
associated with running an allotment service at the standard that the people of Harrow have a right to expect.

What next?

Councillor Hall explained that a smaller working group consisting mainly of site representatives would work with
Council staff to formulate the ‘strategy’ document.

As a long standing recognised group working with allotment holders and a variety of allotment associations it is
expected that Harrow in LEAF will be invited to attend any further discussions regarding the councils Allotment
Strategy. We will endeavour to keep our website regularly posted with any updates.

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