Some readers may be aware that I am a councillor in Gateshead. One of the issues I have been campaigning on is more allotments and garden space in the borough. So you can imagine what I thought of the Council's plans this week to get rid of 98 allotments.
The Council Cabinet discussed the proposals on Tuesday, 18th January. I am not a member of the Cabinet but I am still entitled to speak at meetings. So I turned up at the meeting and pressed the case for keeping the allotments.
I accept that the allotments under threat have problems: many are used for the wrong purposes. Many are in a poor state of repair or have been unused for some time.
The solution is not to get rid of them, but to manage them better. Many people want allotments but Gateshead does not had a central waiting list. Instead, you have to apply to go on the list for a particular site. People waiting at one site therefore will not necessarily know about vacant plots elsewhere.
I am disappointed that the approach of the Council is to get rid of allotments rather than address their management. This is a move in completely the wrong direction.
Our local newspaper have covered the story as well. You can read it at: http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/north-east-news/evening-chronicle-news/2011/01/20/anger-at-decision-to-axe-gateshead-allotments-72703-28022231/
Amateur Gardening has also been in touch to cover the story.