Growing support for allotment plan
TWO parish councils are pitching in to help a community group take control of an allotment site.
Stratton Parish Council and Covingham Parish Council are working with the Hreod Burna Parkway Conservation Group which has plans to reinstate the allotments at Pickards Small Field, in Gorse Hill , and create a community forest at Kembrey Grass.
Both parishes have offered to undertake the work to reopen the allotments in return for half of the plots, to meet demand for spaces in their parishes.
The councils are going to provide support to help bring the allotments into use and implement a management structure with the intention of handing it over to the group in the next 18 months.
Stratton Parish Council clerk Paul Russell said that the authority was happy to do all it could to help, and in return it would help bring down waiting list for allotments – which is at its highest level for decades.
He said: “Nothing has yet been finalised and I am not sure the land has formally been transferred but we are hoping to be in a position in early October to start work.
“The next stage is for the group to secure the site from Swindon Council, which is being supported by the officers.
“In return for its help, Stratton Parish Council will get 50 per cent of the allotments, to help its waiting list, which is currently 70 people.
“Hopefully with our support we will be able to get things moving forward, because the group is really good and very passionate.”
He added that allotments have always been something which the council has been looking to sort out because the demand is so high.
“The last time allotments were so popular was shortly after the war but about five or six years ago the popularity really increased with all this healthy living,” he said.
“We are working hard as a council to bring this waiting list down, we have halved the size of some allotments and asking people who do not use the ones they have to give them up.”
Josie Lewis, secretary of the Hreod Burna Parkway Conservation Group, said: “Basically, the land should have never been neglected and the allotments should never have been shut in the first place.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to bits that our perseverance has paid off, Gorse Hill has got this open space at last, everything just feels so positive.”