Parish plots plagued by more delays

This Is Wiltshire: Coun Albert Wooldridge at the site of the Green Lane allotments Coun Albert Wooldridge at the site of the Green Lane allotments

long-awaited allotments for Roundway have been delayed, putting in doubt planting in time for the spring.

Wiltshire Council’s Devizes Area Board gave the go-ahead to transfer the three-acre site, off Green Lane, in May last year.

But Roundway parish councillor Albert Wooldridge is furious as after Wiltshire Council was unable to complete the legal agreement to transfer the land by the expected time.

Roundway Parish Council had obtained planning permission to turn the agricultural land into allotments and appointed a contractor to carry out the work by the middle of October.

It was hoping the legal agreement to transfer the land from Wiltshire Council would be completed by Christmas as it wanted to have the allotments ready for use in April.

In December, Roundway was told that the transfer would not happen until the end of January at the earliest and Wiltshire Council has now said it might take another two months.

The parish council had been searching for suitable allotment land for ten years and was delighted when Wiltshire Council agreed to transfer the agricultural land it owned.

Coun Wooldridge, who has overseen the allotment project, cannot understand why the transfer has taken so long.

He said: “The Government persuaded county councils to transfer as much land as they can to parish councils. I would have thought it would have gone through quite easily.

“I have been told the delay is due to the legal department at Council Hall being overworked.

“It’s ridiculous and I’m really annoyed about it.

“If they can’t complete until March, it’s unacceptable.”

The parish council is planning to create 60 allotment plots and already has 66 people on the waiting list for one.

Coun Wooldridge said: “It will take our contractor two months to get the site ready.

“If the allotments are not ready by April, people will miss out on early crops.

“ I got a call from someone on the waiting list the other day asking if the project was on time and whether they should order their seeds.”

A statement from Wiltshire Council said: “We are working to complete the transfer and hope to have done so by the end of March.

“This is a complex process and we apologise this hasn’t progressed as quickly as the parish council had hoped.

“However, we are aware of their wish to start planting this spring and are working hard to help make this possible.”

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