By Amy Orton, Local Democracy Reporter
Rent charged on allotments in Nottingham will increase by 300 per cent over the next five years.
The first rent increase in a decade was introduced this year by Nottingham City Council. and the cost will keep rising until 2022.
John Kidger of the Clifton Garden Holders Association has paid £44 for his plot this year but by 2022, it will cost him £159.
He said: “Our rents used to be charged at 14 pence per square metre – at the moment they are 22 pence per square metre and by 2022 they will be charged at 56 pence per square metre.
“We feel we’re being unfairly treated.
“We want to sit down with the local authority and for them to explain to us how this increase is justified.
“Our backs are against the wall but there will be a battle.”
Mr Kidger said he and fellow allotment owners had looked into other leisure activity pricing.
He said: “By law keeping an allotment is a leisure activity and as far as we have been made aware, no other leisure activity is going up by the same rate.
“We made some enquiries and found that swimming in Clifton has gone up 30 pence a session.
“We had a meeting last week and 120 people came.
“Legal action could be an option for us, according to a lady who was there from a national organisation.”
The issue was raised at the Nottingham City Council meeting on Monday (May 14) when Conservative Councillor Andrew Rule asked Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture Labour Councillor Dave Trimble if the rise would be replicated across other leisure activities.
In his response Cllr Trimble said they would not, and added: “Rent on allotments in the city has not increased by a single penny in ten years before this year.
“Other leisure activities we offer have gone up year by year by year.
“You can get a 150 metre square allotment for £33 a year; I don’t know where else you would get such a bargain.”
At the meeting, Cllr Rule also asked for reassurance that the council was aware of similar rent rises proposed by Leeds City Council which resulted in them losing a judicial review.
Cllr Trimble said: “I am aware of Leeds City Council and the judicial review; other local authorities are doing a similar thing.
“It’s always a risk when we do something like this but these rents have not gone up in a decade.”
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Rule said: “What we have to remember is a lot of the people who own these allotments are receiving a pension.
“The portfolio holder said about discounts for elderly people but the increase of 300 per cent is still an increase of 300 per cent even on a discounted rate.
“Pensions aren’t rising by that much so they can’t afford to pay the extra money.”