Barrow allotment rent hike saga deepens amid refund row
Last updated at 16:41, Friday, 28 September 2012
ALLOTMENT holders have reacted angrily to an offer of a refund following a row over rent increases.
Barrow Borough Council carried out a review of allotments across the district last year after being hit with a £55,000 bill for their upkeep.
The council’s plan to increase rents led to a price increase, which was announced on April 1.
But now the Local Government Ombudsman has found the council implemented the price increase 81 days too early – and must refund the over-charge.
The price hike meant rent on a 300-square-yard piece of land increasing from £43 a year to £86.
The council has announced it will discount next year’s rates to pay back the 81 day over-charge, but the average amount of repayment is believed to be less than £10 per allotment holder.
Allotment holders have been sent letters informing them of the refund but at least two campaigners have been left upset by the offer.
Paul Bibby, who lodged a complaint with the Local Government Ombudsman, said: “The last administration took away concessions for allotment holders, this administration has put rents up.
“I am going to stand in the Hindpool ward at the next council election as a result of this.
“It is an attack on the poorest people. People who should be encouraged to do some gardening.
“I’m not at all happy about this. This is not the end of it.”
Eric Wood, a Barrow Island resident and former borough councillor, said: “I am seeking a judicial review pending legal advice.
“This is the first time they have offered to give money back.
“My solicitor says they have illegally taken money.
“What I want is the right amount of money and I want it in cash now.
“It has cost me a lot of money to go through a solicitor and I want that back too.”
Keith Johnson, assistant director for community services at Barrow Borough Council, said: “We’re pleased that the Local Government Ombudsman has found that the council has followed correct procedure for restructuring allotment rates but we acknowledge that we should have given three months notice. On that basis we’re happy to refund this amount to allotment holders by discounting next year’s rates.”
First published at 16:32, Friday, 28 September 2012
Published by http://www.nwemail.co.uk
Have your say
it's Â£10, get over it. The council is having to make savings everywhere and you expect them to pay for hobby! i wonder if they'll pay for a gym membership for me or maybe gliding lessons.
Quick enough to take the rent.... but we have to wait until next year to get our refund !