Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Allotment strategy for Sefton

It was good today to take time out from discusions about next years budget-not a year for the faint hearted-and what the future of the Library, Art Gallery and Arts Centre is -to join John Pugh our MP in talks with counci officals about allotments.

There has been a great surge in applications for allotments. Clearly there needs to be more land made available. I am keen to support that move. There is land available; some on sites where there used to be plots e.g. Segars Lane in Ainsdale, some on site awaiting development and also some on playing fields at Schools that have been shut. I also understand that there is a possibility of private sites becoming available attached to garden centres. The development of such sites need not be mega expensive-and given Sefton's budget next year they can't be.
In addition there is the option of providing more half plots as existing plot holders retire.
I do believe that a significant number of people expressing interest today will stay the course. Others, obviously, will drop out as the fashion fades and the hard work kicks in. Nevertheless we do have a golden opportunity to bring new people and ideas into allotments and like any other human activity it will profit from such recruits.
It would be good to see some schools take a plot as I am sure that the more different groups of people are using the plots the better support there will be in the community for the provision. Allotments can become very inward look and apart from the community and that is not desirable.
Several people have suggested that the allotment competitions that the council used to run should be brought back and certainly there is some silverware around.
Anyway the discussions that we had were very constructive and a new strategy for allotments is soon to be published for wide public consultation. I don't think that the issue is going to become the dominant issue in next May's elections as it was at the first county council elections in 1889. That was an important elections in many respects-it was the first since Gladstone expanded the franchise in1884 and became known as the allotment election with candidates declaring for and against an expansion of provisions. The allotmenteers (Liberals) won by a narrow margin and by 1890 the number of plots had reached close to half a million. We don't need that scale of expansion today but a bit of the spirit engendered 120 years ago would be welcome!