Charities to get discount on soaring King’s Lynn allotment rents

Allotment rents in Lynn are set to soar
Allotment rents in Lynn are set to soar
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Community groups are to be given a discount under plans that are set to see allotment rents in Lynn treble over the next three years.

Council chiefs say the price hikes are necessary to ensure the service can fund itself amid the continuing pressure on local government finances.

But critics maintain a 25 per cent discount for charities and other local organisations, which was backed at a meeting this week, is not enough.

Under West Norfolk Council’s budget, which was approved last month, allotment rents in Lynn will be frozen at 7p per square metre during the 2016-17 financial year.

However, the charges are set to rise to 10p per square metre in 2017-18, 15p in 2018-19 and 21p in 2019-20, taking the standard charge up to £70 per year. After that, the fees will increase in line with inflation.

The proposals were initially backed at a meeting of the Lynn area consultative committee in January, though concerns were raised about the impact on charities and voluntary groups.

A plan to offer a 25 per cent discount to such organisations was backed by six votes to three during the committee’s latest meeting on Monday.

But Conservative Patrick Rochford said that was not enough and called for those groups to only pay 25 per cent of the total charge.

He said: “I would like to see the standard charge rise faster to get to the amount that we need.”

He pointed out that the plots are maintained using money drawn from special expenses, which are levied for work which would normally be done by parish councils.

He added: “We have to think long and hard about whether allotments should be subsidised to this degree and whether this money could be better spent elsewhere.”

However, Elizabeth Nockolds, the council’s cabinet member for culture, heritage and health, said it would take longer for the allotments to become self-financing if that idea was implemented.

She said maintenance was the main cost of providing the plots, ahead of administration.

She added: “At year three, it’s still only £1 a week. You’re still going to ask other allotment holders to pay more.”

And Labour’s Sandra Collop said: “I think 25 per cent is enough.”

The discount will be reviewed after 12 months and the committee will be able to debate other reforms.