New strategy aims to 'build bridges' between allotment holders and council after tensions
Praise has been given to plans for a new allotment strategy in Hartlepool, which aims to ‘build bridges’ between the council and tenants.
Hartlepool Borough Council officers, as part of ongoing considerations to provide quality allotment opportunities for all residents, are to develop a new allotment strategy.
This will include postponing the implementation of previously discussed rule changes until 2022, with consultations to take place with allotment holders looking at priorities for the area.
Councillors on the adult and community based services committee praised the plans for a new strategy, adding the consultation with all allotment holders will benefit everybody involved.
Cllr Amy Prince said: “Part of the reason why I wanted to be involved in the council is work like this.
“I don’t have enough lovely things to say about it, it genuinely makes me ecstatic.
“I think this is what we are about as a town, how do we make it better, how do we include more people, how do we work together.”
Cllr Sue Little, chair of the committee, noted how key to the strategy will be the communication with all allotment tenants in Hartlepool.
Cllr Stephen Thomas added: “I think it’s only fair to say there has been tensions in the recent past between the council and allotment holders, and I’m really pleased to hear the tone of the presentation.
“I think one of the real important things about the engagement process that is going to be happening is about building some of those bridges, and building a much stronger relationship between the council and our allotment holders in Hartlepool.”
Gemma Ptak, council assistant director of preventative and community based services, said it will be a ‘long-term strategy’ being drawn up to ensure the best services possible are available.
She said: “We have seen quite an increase in demand for allotment plots certainly over the last two years, we’ve seen an increase in our waiting list and people really keen to be able to access this asset.
“In light of this, and considering where we are in terms of allotments, we do want to ensure we can review our current position, and use the learning certainly of the last 12 months and beyond."
She added: “We want to look at integration, we want to look at providing great services, we want to look at establishing something that’s sustainable
“Our aspiration is to give as many people as possible that would like to access these sites a real chance to do that.”
She added consultation which takes place will be ‘extremely robust’ and officers will look for the best way to carry this out with all allotment holders.
This will also involve developing communications to consult with allotment holders on a sustained basis, according to officers.
Cllr Carl Richardson stressed the importance that the council follows through with what is being proposed in the strategy.
He said: “I hope it’s not going to be a case of consultation, but this is what we’re going to do, this is what we’re going to implement.
“I hope that we are going to be involving the users and the tenants. When we involve actual people who are doing the work, the policy becomes far better.”
It was also agreed updates on the allotment strategy would be brought back to the committee as it is being drawn up.
In total the council currently manages 1,000 allotment plots across 16 sites.
The new strategy 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.