£2m needed to improve allotments

COUNCIL bosses estimate that it would cost £2m to improve the condition of hundreds of allotment plots.

A Hartlepool Borough Council report identified allotments as areas of overwhelming anti-social behaviour with arson, fly-tipping, illegal sub-letting and drug growing highlighted as problems.

Hartlepool has 1,000 plots and council bosses estimate that at least £2m is needed to improve the sites.

Allotment holders could be asked to pay more in rent in an effort to raise cash to carry out essential repairs.

Officers will meet next week to approve a plan to make incremental increases in the annual rent for a plot from £37.06 to £64.86 a year by 2016.

The worst areas for fly-tipping include allotment sites at Nicholson Field and Chester Road.

A report to the meeting also said that waste disposal businesses had deliberately taken over some plots to bury, store and burn materials before abandoning them.

Other problems include water leaks, poor maintenance of the water supply and increased costs in supplying water.

Officers say fencing also needs to be improved. But the report did highlight improvements have already been made including establishing an allotment forum, gaining £66,000 in funding for improvements, buying water kits and improving vehicle barriers.

Independent councillor Cath Hill, portfolio holder for culture, leisure and tourism, is due to discuss the rent increases on Tuesday, January 10, at 10am at the Civic Centre.