A COUNCIL has decided against charging people £50 to own an allotment – despite it being included in its fees for next year.
Gosport Borough Council had put the payment forward after it spent more than £3,000 cleaning up allotments after people had used them.
It would be a shame if we forced people out because of this charge.Councillor Peter Chegwyn
But at a full council meeting, Tory leader Councillor Mark Hook decided to remove the charge after opposition councillors spoke against it.
Allotment owner Jim More went to the meeting.
He said: ‘I want to thank the council for reaching the decision not to implement the charge. I believe that a large percentage of people on the allotment waiting list would have struggled to meet the council’s demand.’
At the meeting, councillors had initially asked for the £50 deposit not to be applied for people on benefits or low income.
Councillor Richard Dickson said: ‘What I feel will be hopefully passed is that the deposit will be waved for those on low income and benefits.
‘They get discount for refuse collection and I would like to see something similar here.’
Cllr Dennis Wright, of the Labour Party, added: ‘I’m concerned that this will affect people on low income who would have a problem paying the £50 deposit.
‘I think it should be withdrawn.’
Liberal Democrat councillor Peter Chegwyn agreed. He said: ‘We should be encouraging people to grow their own food.
‘I would rather we waved the charge.
‘It would be a shame if we forced people out because of this charge.’
Cllr Hook said the fee was included after the council spent £2,610 to remove asbestos from the allotments and a further £700 to clean them up when users had left rubbish behind. ‘The point of the deposit is because some people do leave the allotments in a mess,’ he said.
‘We have had to pay significant amounts of money and it is not fair for the tax-payer to pay to clear up the allotments.’
But Cllr Hook said they would remove the charge for next year. He added: ‘I am happy to take it out providing the allotments are kept in good condition.
‘If we have got the same problem then we will come back next year and put in this deposit.’