Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Bonfires on Allotments

Just before the annual gardening group meeting one of the Site Reps became aware of the draft Parks and Open Spaces Strategy for 2019 – 2026 in which Policy P22 had been added which states 

“From 1st January 2020 fires of any kind will no longer be allowed on the council allotment sites. Failure to abide by this policy will result in termination of the allotment agreement of any plot holder found having a fire on the site. This Policy supersedes the guidance in version 6 -2018 of the Allotment gardeners Guide. “

The assembled Site Reps brought this matter up under any other business, as

1) There had been no discussion / consultation with the site reps and the 2500 or more plot holders in the borough regarding the possible change in policy.

2) The on line consultation period had expired, it has been reopened following our complaint however there are no specific questions in relation to Fires on Allotments so we are still not being consulted.

3) The Policy states “fires of any kind” thus could be taken as including those for brewing tea of coffee, and BBQ’s and as written the policy is unclear.

The whole concept of the Gardening Group Meeting is for the consultation and discussion of these matters and at a previous meeting a few years ago it was agreed that bonfires would not be allowed between the 1st April to the 30th September.

This allows for the burning of wood, weeds that cannot be composed and tomato and potato blighted foliage and the production of wood ash that is a valuable source of fertiliser and alternative for lime, It also allowed new plot holders taking over new plot to burn the weeds and timber debris they inherited on a vacant plot between October and the end of March.

During this time of year it gets darker earlier and there are not as many neighbours with their windows open. With Bonfire night in November it allows for the drying of weeds and cleared vegetation in October and the burning on the 5th November.

With thirty six allotment sites with over 2,500 plot holders we are a significant group within the borough and should be consulted on this issue. There are many things that can be done to reduce any complaints regarding bonfires and stove fires on allotment sites causing nuisance, we have not had the opportunity to explore and discuss these.

I would suggest that as many of us write to our local councillors as possible, stressing how difficult this is going to make things for us, and the fact that we have not been consulted at all on the change, particularly that we have not been given the opportunity to work out a compromise to alleviate the problem. You can find out who your local Councillor by putting in your post code in this link https://moderngov.sutton.gov.uk/mgFindMember.aspx 

Your Neighbourhood Manager can be found here

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