brookfield allotment - pic by Espresso Addict, creative commons

Would-be gardeners in Nantwich are literally losing the plot – amid a council crackdown on absent allotment holders.

Nantwich Town councillors are targeting a ‘growing’ problem with tenants who have ‘bean’ neglecting their sites.

It appears the popularity of allotments has dipped, despite allotments costing just £36 a year for Nantwich residents.

It means some vacant plots have been left overgrown, turning into eyesores.

Now councillors are planting doubt in the minds of absent gardeners on their Brookfield and Welshman Lane sites by serving non-cultivation orders.

These will require tenants to show some activity on their plot in the next month or face eviction.

Eight have already been served after a recent survey of plots.

The problem came to light as the town council looks to adopt a new way of running its allotment sites, with 100 plots on Welshman’s Lane and another 100 on the three separate areas next to Brookfield Park.

They are considering offering a growing number of vacant plots to residents outside the town boundary.

Council clerk Ian Hope told last night’s town council meeting: “There are a number of plot holders on our Nantwich sites who are not cultivating.

“Non-cultivation causes problems for adjacent plot holders, and is not fair on those people who still are on the waiting list.

“They should be served with non cultivation orders. As a result, we will have more vacancies than we’ve had for a while.

“Over the last four or five years we have had about 10 vacant plots available.”

“So why don’t we offer them to other people living in adjoining parishes?”

Cllr Douglas Bowyer-Bates said: “We have a number of vacant allotment plots at the Welshman’s Lane site because those who want them tend to prefer Brookfield as it’s in the town, less distance to travel.

“This means vacant plots at Welshman’s Lane are being left unattended, and become overgrown with weeds, impacting on the active plots.”

Town and parish councils have a statutory duty to provide allotments if there is a demand, and these are paid for by council tax payers.

Nantwich councillors agreed to approach neighbouring parishes including Stapeley and Batherton to offer a number of vacant plots so these councils can fulfil their statutory obligations.

Cllr David Marren, Deputy Mayor of Nantwich Town Council, said: “The idea is that we explain to parish councils we can help alleviate their mandatory requirements to offer plots.”

 (Pic: Brookfield allotment by Espresso Addict, creative commons)

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