allotment holders in Leeds have launched a legal battle against council plans to raise their rent.
The Leeds and District Allotment Gardeners Federation (LDAGF) is challenging proposals agreed by the authority’s cabinet in September, which will see rents increased incrementally over the next three years, and a £137,000 subsidy slashed.
The organisation has this week issued an application in the High Court for a judicial review. The group is suing on what it claims is a failure by the council to determine a reasonable amount of rent in line with Section 10 Allotments Act 1950. It also objects to allotment holders having to continue to maintain sites to the same level as previously, but without access to the same proportion of rental income, as well as claims that the consultation exercise related to the changes was flawed.
Ian Wood, of the LDAGF, said: “We appreciate that the council is under a lot of financial pressure, but so are our members. It’s just not right that the council is able to put up the rent very significantly for individual members and at the same time expect the allotment associations to continue to maintain the sites to a high standard without any extra funds. Our members are worried that the decision by the council, which is supposed to act in our best interests, will destroy all of this. What Leeds City Council has proposed, compared to other local authorities, is just unreasonable.”
A spokesperson for Leeds City Council said: “We are very disappointed that the Leeds and District Allotment Gardeners Federation have chosen to take such a course of action which the council will robustly dispute.
“There is no merit in taking this course of action which in itself is likely to cost the public purse.
“There is a modest rise in allotment rents of 34p per week, starting next year. The council is facing huge reductions in funding which require difficult decisions to be taken.”