Wednesday 2 October 2019

Fires on Allotments - My Preferred Option

Following my article about Bonfires on Allotments are a contentious issue and the research I did over a number of Allotment Facebook groups that I sent to Mark Dalzell the Head of Parks and Open Spaces for the London Borough of Sutton I received an email in reply that said 

"Thank you for this comprehensive round up of all the options.  Which of these options do you think do you think would reduce the likelihood of nuisance complaints and what is your preferred option?"  

Here was my reply:-

From you initial email it would appear that you favour more limited months of burning, the main problem with this as I see it is that Idverde have not performed I have now been waiting for 8 weeks for them to send out invites to the next two people on the waiting list and currently according to their figures issued after the meeting and not before as promise last year there are 124 people (See here) on the waiting list with plots waiting for them to view NOW. And we have been informed that no invites will be sent out until they have processed the invoices.

Because Idverde were late and did not process the no cults and notices to quit in a timely fashion we have many plots in the borough that are now extremely overgrown so key to preventing a massive burn is to keep Idverde on track with the service they should be providing and aren’t. and to get new plot holders on overgrown and vacant sites as soon as possible. Let’s prevent the cause of most of the problems first before dealing with the symptoms

Ideally we (Parks Team and Site Reps) should make any decision about reducing the time more than we have at the moment based on the information re timing and magnitude of the complaints from environmental health over the last five years, once you have acquired and shared them.

Because people on the waiting list are unlike to get an offer, meet the rep and view, complete the paperwork and if they are lucky get a key in less than 4 weeks which is the longest ldverde have taken so far to supply a new tenant with a key. It is likely that they will need the period between December and the end of February if one was going to consider restricting fires to October, November and March.

I would suggest that this year we look at improving knowledge and educations and the guidance within the Allotment Gardening Guide and I attach the first draft of a replacement page for the Guide that I have created and uploaded onto the Site Reps Facebook Group for comment. I have suggested that once agreed we place this on notice boards ASAP. I I have assumed some actions that we can take to improve the situation, but these need to be considered and discussed and agreed upon i.e.

That large and open fires be banned and that we insist that incinerators or clean oil drums are used as they help keep a fire hot and reduce smoke emissions.

At the moment I have said ideally that fires should be started no earlier than 2 hours before dusk as this allows for an reasonable period of time to burn on site and stay to watch that the fire is out before leaving. Currently we don’t provide and restriction on what time of day fires can be set.

I suggest that we agree as soon as possible as we are now into fire burning season that the guidance I have created be distributed and placed on gates and notice boards.

That the Allotment Gardening Guide is updated with respect to fires and the other necessary amendments

Historically as newsletter used to be sent out with the invoices, I wonder could the bonfire guidance be sent out with the invoices this year?

That we monitor the situation this year and concentrate on educating the plot holders, and that we review the situation in April 2020 and discuss as a group at next year’s annual meeting if we actually need to restrict the burning period further.  

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