Author Topic: Danger from allotment self-management  (Read 11169 times)

adamreith

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Danger from allotment self-management
« on: May 17, 2007, 23:49:27 »
TIME TO END SELF MANAGEMENT FOR ALLOTMENTS?


To make grant applications and Field management more convenient Associations are often advised to go for some form of devolved management, obtained from their local parish or town.  This is imagined to give easier application of improvements, negotiation of rents, water supply and tenancy agreements and other such matters. It has been favoured as means of securing wider community participation and diversity in allotments and so has been the “in thing” to work for.

However the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners (NSALG) have pointed out an eviction procedure, applying to allotments under such a devolved management scheme. It is based on their interpretation of the 1922 Allotments Act (Section 1a) on advice from a junior QC dating back to 1994.  Thus suggests that any plot holder may be evicted at the will of the self-managing committee without the need to give him or her any reason for being evicted, such as breach of allotment rules or misconduct of any kind.  Your allotment tenancy thus becomes arbitrary in terms of your dependence on the will of the devolved management allotment association committee.

Obviously this may give rise to concerns:  such as the possibility of discrimination, personal vendettas, arbitrary eviction to ease a Section  8 procedure through for closing the Field where effective opposition is mounted by some members and so on.  It seems to imply a considerable loss of rights.

Association constitutions may well prohibit arbitrary evictions by building in appeals procedures and safeguards.  But some Associations are now modifying their rules to remove these special safeguards built in to their Constitutions concerning eviction.  They claim the aim is to “modernise” the Association so as to be able apply this eviction procedure to any individual.  Apart from raising the question of your right to lease a plot (which is public land) independently of an Association or membership of one, and attacking any rights to property you may have under human rights legislation, as a leaseholder, this eviction procedure does seem to make hiring a plot a more uncomfortable state of affairs.

No suggestion has been made as to how to avoid this eviction process under self-management, so perhaps it is high time to reconsider devolved management as a way of managing allotments.  It might be better to remove it from our Associations where it exists or is being attempted, and go for less complete management discretion.   

Human rights laws are not without their justified critics.  Still, your allotment plot is your property and so (arguably) is protected against unjustified confiscation by the Act. Gardeners raise the question: are we not losing an ancient right if we can be evicted without accusation of wrongdoing or breach of tenancy?

Help! Does anyone know of any further legal exploration of this matter? As a plot holder I feel endangered by sy committee's powers! ???



Allotments 4 All

Danger from allotment self-management
« on: May 17, 2007, 23:49:27 »

legendaryone

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Re: Danger from allotment self-management
« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2007, 06:33:25 »
Hi adamreith, where did you find this article ?
Our site is self managed but not totally independent from the local council. When i go my plot i had to sign an agreement which laid out the conditions which would see me evicted from the site. If the assoc was to evict me unjustly then i would be able to take my case to the council. If people are concerned then i suggest that they get onto thier own committee and see about re writing the tenancy agreements.
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Robert_Brenchley

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Re: Danger from allotment self-management
« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2007, 06:49:28 »
We have a situation where a lot of day to day management is devolved to the Association, but the Council are ultimately responsible for lettings. So they'll accept lettings made by the Association, but only the Council can evict. I've always felt that was just as well!

Trevor_D

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Re: Danger from allotment self-management
« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2007, 07:30:42 »
Our site is totally independent from the council and we have a constitution - dating originally to 1910 - spelling out in great detail the whys & hows of expelling members. I've just taken over as Plot Secretary and was given pro forma letters to be sent out to those not cultivating their plot. I suggest that any group becoming self-managing makes sure they have a sound set of rules.

kt.

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Re: Danger from allotment self-management
« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2007, 14:44:01 »
I always thought we had good council backing for our committee. Due to lack of it against bad plot holders our chairman and chairwoman have now handed it all back to the council to see how they like it. So now all complaints must go to them and wait forever to be sorted....

We even have some plot holders served with ongoing court orders over some issues. One guy has 3 plots and never grows anything, ain't paid rent for 3 years, lets his pigeons out at all hours to enjoy everyone else's crop. With a huge waiting list we could put them plots to better use. People don't mind him having pigeons - it is the way his privilege of having allotments is being abused. If the council win - he will have 28 days to re home his livestock or the RSPCA will remove them for him.
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adamreith

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Re: Danger from allotment self-management
« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2007, 06:56:30 »
 :( But - committees can and do change rules, and when as in one instance I know of there is animosity they have targeted one person under this ruling,(not me!) and removed the requirements for discussion and appeal.

Yes - make sure you can appeal to Council and make sure any change in that muust have debated Council support . That sounds a very good idea.

Committees sometimes get entrenched and fight off member intervention - happily not in the case of the clued-up correrspondents here.

adamreith

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Re: Danger from allotment self-management
« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2007, 14:18:57 »
 ???
Just in case, a correspopndent has sent me the NSALG reply to a query on eviction of a plot holder without the need to give any reasons to justify it.  The relevant section reads:-

"It should be clear from this that where a Section 1 subsection (1) paragraph (a) Allotments Act 1922 (as amended section 1 Allotments Act 1950) Notice to quit has been validly served, as in the instant case by XYZ Allotment Association on a tenant, then :
•          No reason need be given for its service ;
•   Kindly note that since the allotment association enjoys Devolved Management, and hence all powers, rights and authorities which previously attached to the Landlord Paramount, the Town Council, it is perfectly at liberty to terminate a Tenancy pursuant to the said Section 1 (1) (a) Allotments Act 1922 ;
•   There is neither appeal against nor redress for any such Notice.
 
To put this matter into words of one syllable :  any Allotments Association which enjoys Devolved Management, has full authority, pursuant to s. 1 (1) (a) Allotments Act 1922, to terminate a Tenancy ; and Counsel’s Opinion, Clauses 5, 9 and 10 ,make it clear that no reason need be given ; and there is neither appeal against nor redress for any such Notice.
I trust the foregoing is clear enough for you ?"

THERE appears to be no statement as how to ameliorate this state of affairs and restore/maintain the plot hoder's normal human rights e.g. of confronting any accuser, and of appeal.
 
There may well be more  that the NSALG has not yet stated, and one can only go by what appears to be the case they are stating so far without prejudice to anyone concerned, and attempt to support them in making it clear. 

Does anyone know what we can do about it?  For example, can we build in a clause into Association constitutions granting a right of appeal against being evicted without any reason given?  that appeal being to the Local Council? and  entrenching that right by making it removable only by an open vote in a full Local Authority debate?

Please: any  judges or QC's with a plot reading this, can you help?

moonbeam

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Re: Danger from allotment self-management
« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2007, 20:00:59 »
We manage our own allotments and apply our own rules we evict without any notice a plotholder who is caught stealing from another members plot.
Any plot holder can have there lease terminated if there rent is not paid by the end of January as all rents are due on the 1st January each year.
Plotholders who have been members for 1 year can have there lease terminated if there allotment is not cultivated by the 1st April.
Apart from the first one stealing from another members plot those threatened with eviction have 14 days in which to put there case to the committee as to why they should not be evicted.
There has never been a case brought to the committee in the last ten years as the secretary allways speaks to the plot holder before any eviction notice is served and a compromise is in most cases allways reached.
As far as the council is concerned they are not allowed to interfere in any of our allotment business and must write to the secretary if they want to visit our allotments for any reason whatsoever.

adamreith

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Re: Danger from allotment self-management
« Reply #8 on: May 27, 2007, 06:04:52 »
 :)Fine - all these things you outline seem to be  evictions for reasons found in your rules concerning tenancy etc.  and you can only be praised.

The problem that has now arisen is the allotment movement appearing to support eviction without any of these reasons being given, or even required, from a delegated management association.  I take it  your committee does not just send round a note saying "you're off, no reasons need be stated"?

If the plots are on public land (statutory allotment land or land provided by the Council) it might not be in the gift of the Committee without  restriction: members of the public may well have something to gain from taking up matters with their councillors if they were mistreated eg denied a plot by being passed over on the waiting list, or because the applicant was a woman, or unmarried mother etc.. Of course this appeal doesn't need to happen in your well-run Field.  But it seems delegation of management from a Council to an association can never be total, since they have statutory duties and also obligatioins under general laws about discrimination against women, disabled access, and many other things, not to mention human rights legislation. 

It seems all that would be lost were we able to remove people without need to give any reasons, don't youthink? Can that be right? And if delegated management were to make this possible, should we continue with it? - the original question.

timbj

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Allotment Self Management - the New Pol Pots!
« Reply #9 on: August 28, 2007, 09:14:53 »
Hi - I've just joined this forum because I am in dispute with one of these Pol Pot style Management Committees!  I am very interested in finding out more about the legality of local management arrangements for allotments.

I have worked in local government for 30 years (now retired) so I know a bit about the new constitutional requirements brought in by the Local Government Act 2000.  It seems to me that many local councils are ignoring their statutory duties in relation to allotments and make no reference to "allotments" in their Council Constitution and scheme of delegation.  My local council even say on their website that "this service (allotments) is not available from the Council" - even though they have an agreement with a Management Committee to run the allotments in their non-parished areas!

I've read several themes on this site which relate to the dangers of local management.  I am quite shocked to read of some of the experiences of plotholders around the country as a result of the arbitrary way in which these local management committees operate.  I can now add my own experience.

I wanted to put up a structure on my plot which was a combination of a vinery and a rain water harvesting system.  Basically, it was a structure with a roof but with open sides.  Knowing the Site Committee's ban on sheds and greenhouses, I asked  the Site Chairman and one of the other Committee members if this would be Ok - they saw no problems.

We started the construction.  One of the house owners in the nearby houses  objected and the matter was raised at the next meeting of the Site Committee.  By a majority, they decided against our construction.  We appealed to the "Borough Council Allotments Management Committee" via their Chairman.

I subsequently got a letter saying they had held an Appeals Committee (I wasn't notified of the meeting or allowed to be present) and they upheld the "take it down" decision.  I was not entirely surprised by the decision but the lack of natural justice and maladministration I encountered has fuelled me up!

We live in an age where democracy and freedom is under threat on a global scale.  Bullying by terrorists is abhorrent.  So is bullying by local councils and their unelected "management committees".  We must not allow this kind of "wild west" administration of councils' statutory functions to infiltrate our lives on the allotment plot!

So - a call to anyone out there with an understanding of public law and a belief in the rights of allotment plotholders.  Can anyone give any examples of where such disputes have been taken up with the Council in question and then onwards to the Local Government Ombudsman?  In particular, has anyone challenged the accuracy of a Council's Constitution and scheme of delegation?

It seems to me that, even if a council had delegated its allotment management to a group of "trustees" through a lease, the accountability for the allotment function should still be traceable through the Council's scheme of delegation.  Further, the way in which such Management Committees or Trustees operates should be to the same standard we should expect of the Council itself. They have, after all, stepped into the shoes of the local authority - just as a Housing Association might do.

Any ideas and suggestions on a plan of attack?

arphamoe

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Re: Danger from allotment self-management
« Reply #10 on: August 28, 2007, 21:34:45 »
Can't help you with examples but I would go for the Ombudsman, the Standards Board (if its maladministration or abuse of rules) and then the local MP - if the Council cant be disciplined enough to grant you any form of reply or audience at a hearing, perhaps they can answer to a higher authority. I would even consider going as far as contacting Deputy Prime Ministers office, as it they who have final say in allotment matters.

djbrenton

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Re: Danger from allotment self-management
« Reply #11 on: August 30, 2007, 09:07:28 »
Section 1 requires that 12 months notice should be given. Our Association ( I'm no longer Secretary) seems to think it can opt not to renew someone's tenancy at this time of year, but will find itself embroiled in Extraordinary General Meetings if it tries. Had I been able to attend our AGM, I was going to propose an inclusion in our tenancy agreements that tenancies be automatically renewable unless eviction proceedings were underway for breach of said agreement.

Frankie

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Re: Danger from allotment self-management
« Reply #12 on: December 06, 2017, 08:48:29 »
Does anybody have any more recent experience of this type of devolved management of council sites, than this original post from ten years ago? Wondering if anybody has examples of long lease agreements that have worked effectively, or found problems further down the line after taking on the commitment? In our particular case, the association wants to take on the lease, and the council wants to lease the allotments for 50 or 99 years. I'm doubtful about the legacy that this leaves for future generations of allotmenteers, especially as even now, with over 400 plotholders, the committee struggles to get volunteers to take on committee roles. All of the committee is over 70 years old, and younger people just are not interested in taking it on. Any comments very welcome!