Leeds: ‘What’s being gay got to do with tending allotments?’

Ian Wood said the money spent on the survey would have been better spent on improving facilities.
Ian Wood said the money spent on the survey would have been better spent on improving facilities.
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A questionnaire sent to allotment holders in Leeds which asked about their sexual orientation has come under fire from a councillor.

Around 4,000 copies of the questionnaire were sent by the council to all plot holders and to those on the waiting list for an allotment.

A report to councillors said the exercise was carried out to “gain an understanding of the demographic profile of allotment users.”

One of the sections dealt with sexual orientation and asked people to say if they were hetrosexual, gay or bisexual.

Coun Ron Grahame (Lab, Burmantofts and Richmond Hill) said he failed to see what sexual orientation had to do with allotments.

He added: “We are talking about people growing potatoes, onions, leeks or whatever.

“I am all for equality but this is just ridiculous.”

Sean Flesher, chief countryside and parks officer, told the council’s safer and stronger communities scrutiny board that the survey forms, which were returned by 16 per cent of recipients, provided useful information.

Ian Wood, chairman of the Leeds and District Gardeners’ Federation, said: “The consensus among our members – and we have nearly 2,500 of them – seems to be that it was a wasted opportunity.”

He added: “Members felt that it was at least irrelevant to ask about sexuality, and at most – intrusive.

“What possible relevance does someone’s sexuality have to the way they garden on their allotment?”

Mr Wood, a plotholder at Lidgett Lane allotments in Moortown, said the expense and effort involved in carrying out the survey would have been better spent on reviving some of the many derelict allotment sites around the city.

These could then be matched up with some of the 1,500 people who are currently on allotment waiting lists.

Phil Gomersall, publicity officer for LDGF, added: “Whether someone is gay, bisexual, male or female, it’s irrelevant to gardening.”

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