Gardeners plotting to avoid the threat of allotment rents quadrupling may put forward radical plans to run nearly 100 allotment sites themselves.
A study into the way allotments are run in seven other UK cities has been conducted by Leeds and District Gardeners Federation (LDGF), before plans that could mean the voluntary group running them for Leeds City Council are drawn.
The council has announced it intends to end the £130,000 subsidy it pays to keep allotment rents down, with suggestions that rent on plots without a water supply could rocket from £38 to just under £160 a year.
But a council spokeswoman said it will consult with gardeners on ways to remove the subsidy over a two-year period.
Allotment holder Coun Stewart Golton (Lib Dem, Rothwell) said: “Our gardeners either accept the fact that the council will gradually raise rent to the point where it’s £160 a year, which will force many off the land, or they look to supporting an effort to run the service themselves and, through that extra effort of volunteers, keep them as affordable as possible.”
Such a change could cut out administration and other costs but may rely on volunteers.
Steve Johnston, 60, treasurer at the Old Lane plots, Beeston, said: “Because people haven’t heard anything they had assumed the council have dropped the idea of rises.”
Ian Wood, LDGF chairman, said: “The options are we continue the way we are, we work more in partnership with the council or the federation takes it over entirely – it’s too soon to say.”
Consultation with the group’s 2,500 members will shape any proposals, which will then be put to council officers.
A council spokeswoman said: “We are looking at current prices, as well as considering opportunities for alternative management arrangements.”
Council consultation documents will be sent out to plot holders by the end of April.
An LDGF event will gauge opinions at Sheepscar Club, off Scott Hall Road, tomorrow from 9.30am. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to book a place.