Since July 2015, there has been a change in approach in how Exeter City Council allotment plots are let.
With ECC joining in partnership with all of the allotment associations and groups from the major sites, these organisations have taken on the responsibility of letting out vacant plots to perspective tenants – showing them around and introducing them to the site – as well as inspecting the sites, and reporting problems or unused plots.
This has tapped into a hitherto underused and valuable resource; the knowledge, time, and natural enthusiasm of the allotment associations and volunteers themselves.
- Greater income to the Council due to fewer empty plots and shorter gaps between tenancies [vacant plots reduced from 200+ to 77]
- Less money being spent on clearing vacant plots due to faster turnarounds
- Shorter waiting list, so people will receive their plots sooner [3-4 year wait, down to under 1 year]
- Sites being maintained to a higher standard, and problems reported and fixed quicker due to specific site representatives
- Better communication between tenants – associations – Council
- Greater feeling of responsibility by the associations. Many have also taken on additional responsibilities on their site, saving the Council time and money
- Fewer complaints about problems caused by unattended plots [weeds, etc]
- Greater autonomy of sites due to a small amount of income generation for each site.
The Council still controls the waiting list and the master copy of the letting list, and is still responsible for administering the sites and handling all charges.
An additional £10 letting fee has also been levied against all new tenants signing up, which is then given back to the sites themselves. This allows them to pay for items like new notice boards and minor repairs, which again saves the Council the time and money on supplying them.
As a result of all these changes, the first site to sign up to the scheme last year is now exploring the options of full management of the site – taking the whole cost and management out of the hands of the Council.