Page last updated at 13:49 GMT, Thursday, 30 July 2009 14:49 UK

Summit over allotment shortages

Carrots
Some people are now turning to private allotments to grow veg

A summit of green-fingered campaigners will discuss how more allotments can be provided for those who are on waiting lists across Wales.

Despite huge demand, councils seem reluctant to develop more plots.

It has led to calls for more "creative and proactive" ways of using land for people to grow their own.

The meeting held at the Welsh assembly in Cardiff will also look at whether more rights could be granted to private allotment holders.

Earlier this year, figures obtained by Plaid Cymru revealed that gardeners wanting to grow their own food face a wait of up to nine years for a plot on council allotment sites in Wales.

Across the country, would-be growers have been refused land for allotment use and many have seen private sites sold off for development.

In Treherbert in the Rhondda, campaigners lost their fight to retain Haigside allotments following a long fight with the council against development on the land.

In Narberth in Pembrokeshire, people have been campaigning since 1993 for the local authority to provide plots.

Amber Wheeler, chair of Narberth Allotments, helped gardeners create private allotments after their 10 year campaign for council allotments failed to provide any land.

She said the allotments, which opened in March this year, have provided 23 plots - which cost up to £120 to rent each from the private landowner for the year.

Already, there is a waiting list of five and she is expecting more.

But she fears the allotments, while welcomed by green-fingered locals, may not offer the long-term solution needed.

An allotment summit hopes to tackle long waiting lists

"It's not ideal and it's not a safe thing," she said.

"We have got a 10 year lease but that could be terminated when the landowner wanted. We're providing the allotments but we haven't got the security."

She said she would like to see a different approach taken by councils to provide the land.

"They need to think proactively and creatively to fulfil their obligation [to provide allotments]. There's so much demand and it will probably get worse.

Leanne Wood AM, who has a plot in the Rhondda and who will be at the summit, said she was keen to explore how allotment land could be increased to cope with the demand across Wales.

'Not enough action'

But Allan Rees of the National Society of Allotments and Leisure Gardeners, said the legislation already meant that councils had to provide plots when there was demand.

But he said governments "on all levels" were at fault for not ensuring the law was followed strictly.

"All the things they are talking about [at the summit] are basically already within the legislation," said Mr Rees from Bridgend.

"But it's not being stuck to. It needs to come from the top. It's all talk and not enough action."

He said the problems stemmed from the fact that most councils did not have available land.



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