New allotment strategy for Hartlepool in the works as chiefs plan for future
Council chiefs in Hartlepool are looking to draw up a new allotment strategy to guide the service for future years.
Hartlepool Borough Council officers, as part of ongoing considerations to provide quality allotment opportunities for all residents, are looking to develop an allotment strategy.
It comes after councillors called for a further review of the allotment service and allotment rules, with particular regard to the rights and responsibilities of plot holders, at a full council meeting in October.
Councillors at the meeting said they had been contacted by allotment holders who felt they were ‘hoodwinked’ and not actively consulted over a review of the service by the council.
A report from Gemma Ptak, council assistant director of preventative and community based services, notes a new strategy will identify priorities and service design for allotments in Hartlepool.
The document, which will go before the adult and community based services committee on Friday, also notes the introduction of any changes to the existing allotment rule book will be deferred until the outcome of the latest review.
In her report, she said: “The overall aim of the proposed allotment strategy is to focus on the needs of the current user group and wider community that the allotments serve.
“It will look to evolve service operations, encourage a wider demographic to access allotments within the borough and to make the service more customer focused.
“It is hoped that by doing this, the service will be more inclusive and accessible, and create stronger links into communities.
“It is proposed that this will be facilitated by a revised set of rules which will be introduced in 2022.”
Communication with tenants will also form a ‘critical part’ of the strategy, which will be developed to inform the process and enable ‘effective two way communication’ with tenants, partners and associations on a sustained basis.
Officers hope the strategy will provide a chance for allotment associations to develop, such as through offering community gardens or mentorship schemes on sites that will support new tenants.
The report, from Ms Ptak, also noted the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the benefits and importance allotments can have for people, along with the rise in demand in recent years.
She added: “The demand for allotment plots over the last two years has steadily grown.
“This was especially noticeable during 2020, when there was a large increase in the number of requests to join the waiting list.
“During the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, it has been well documented through feedback from individual tenants and site associations that the allotments have been a significant source of both physical activity and positive mental and social well being.”
In total the council currently manages 1,000 allotment plots across 16 sites.
The development of the strategy will go before the adult and community based services committee on Friday, March 12, from 10am, streamed live via the ‘Hartlepool Council meeting videos’ YouTube channel.