From discussions we think the Council currently feel under pressure on two fronts.
- The numbers on the Council waiting list - hence the notion of splitting plots to get more people off it and more quickly.
- Income - the allotments budget is balanced and there is no leeway, there is a need to keep rents coming in - hence the need to get plots re-let quickly
This has led to more suggestions from them to split plots as they become vacant and demands that site secretaries on OMA sites re-let vacated plots promptly.
If under pressure to split plots, Site Secretaries might wish to adopt the following procedure.
- Check how many 1/2 plots you already have on your site - if it's 25% or more you have achieved your council quota and you can rightly decline to have any more
- Check each plot in question – is the plot less than 250 square metres – if so it is NOT suitable for splitting since to do so would result in at least one plot of less than the recommended minimum of 125sq metres.
- Check whether the plot can be split in such a way that BOTH 1/2 plots are directly accessed from the site path - if not then this plot is NOT suitable for splitting
- Look at the Greenhouses / Sheds etc. on the plot - if splitting into two halves would leave one 1/2 plot virtually covered (or seriously unbalanced) then this plot is NOT suitable for splitting. If none of the above apply and the Council has notified you of demand for plots on your site, then the Council's request for you to use 1/2 plots to get your waiting list down does not seem unreasonable.
- If splitting the currently available vacant plots presents a real problem for you then you could consider designating a block of plots on your site (in advance) which you agree that you'll spilt as and when they become vacant and see if the Council might accept this as an alternative.
- If there are going to be delays in re-letting a plot, please make sure that you inform the Allotments section (preferably by email) as to which plots and the reasons why (transfers within the site and the need to do remedial work on the plot are both possible reasons)
- When seeking to re-let a split plot, we suggest that you do not use the term 1/2 plot - simply tell the applicant that you have a plot for them. After all on some sites ALL plots are under 250 sq metres anyway - so size doesn't determine whether this is or is not a “plot”.
- Finally, make sure that people get offers in strict order i.e. the person at the head of the waiting list gets first choice on what's available. If they refuse they go to the back of the queue and you move to the next person. Try to avoid situations with two prospective tenants on-site arguing over who gets a particular plot.
Hope this isn’t seen as ‘teaching Granny to suck eggs’ but we’re trying to make the system as simple as possible.