A plan to scrap the £137,000 subsidy paid by the city council towards the cost of running allotments across Leeds will be up for considered next week.
The authority’s parks and countryside budget has already been slashed by £2.6m since 2011 in the battle to balance the books against a background of government cuts in public spending.
But the council’s executive board will be told on Wednesday that further reductions still need to be made.
Consultations with allotment holders suggest that, if the council does decide to withdraw its contribution towards the costs of running plots, a narrow majority of just over 52 per cent would support phased increases in allotment rents to cover much of the shortfall.
A report suggests the city council could contribute as much as £53,000 towards the savings target by not filling a vacant community food officer post and by cutting back on the allotments improvements budget.
Although the shortfall would drop to around £80,000 as a result, if the proposals are accepted, allotment holders at 97 sites around Leeds currently paying the full rate will still see their rent almost double in gradual increments over the next three years – up to £72 a year by 2016.
However, the council is being asked to maintain the current level of concessions offered to students, the disabled and the unemployed and to introduce a further discount of 20 per cent for those on a state pension.
Executive member for the environment on the council Coun Mark Dobson said: “We are extremely fortunate to have fantastic allotments across our city and I have been determined from day one to find a sensible and proportionate way forward that meets both the needs of plot-holders and the extremely difficult budgetary challenge the council currently faces.
“We have listened closely to the views that were offered through public consultation and, with that in mind, have put forward a proposal that would see incremental price rises introduced every year instead of one large blanket charge.
“This has been an extremely difficult process, and I would like to thank every plot holder and the allotment associations for the constructive manner in which they approached and contributed to the public consultation.”