Resident again raises issues over allotment

Rogerson Road in Belford.
Rogerson Road in Belford.

A dispute between a resident and Belford Parish Council over allotment allocation was rehashed at the January meeting last week.

As reported last month, there was a heated exchange at the December meeting following a complaint by Geoff Stafford.

He told members he was ‘not happy with the experience I have had applying for an allotment’.

“It’s not transparent and, in my opinion, it brings the parish council into disrepute,” he added. “People in this village have said that getting an allotment depends on who you know.”

His comments sparked anger from the chairman, Coun Brenda Stanton, who said it was ‘despicable’ to ‘impugn the name’ of the council.

The parish councillor who takes the lead on allotments, Chris Rosby, was away for the December meeting, but last Thursday, during his update on the collection of allotment rents, he expressed his concerns at the latter comment.

Coun Rosby said: “It’s nothing to do with who you know, it’s a proper list.

“We had spare allotments for a while, but then whether it was word getting around or the publicity, they were all taken. You never called me about it.”

Mr Stafford, who videoed the proceedings due to the ‘bullying atmosphere’ at the previous meeting, replied: “It had gone way past the point of wanting to discuss it on the phone after two emails and a Freedom of Information request.”

Coun Rosby said: “It’s just unfortunate that I had to go away for a month and other councillors would not have been up to speed.”

He explained that he went to Mr Stafford’s house, who was next on the waiting list, before he went away, but Mr Stafford wasn’t in so he left the letter explaining the rent collection process as it had his contact details on.

At one point during the debate, Coun Rosby said that in his opinion, ‘it’s all about nothing’, which Mr Stafford described as ‘disrespectful to the public’.

Surveys the next step in plan

County councillor John Woodman provided an update on the progress of the Belford Neighbourhood Plan following a meeting of the steering group last Monday.

The group is currently finalising a vision for the plan and someone has agreed to draw up a first draft. “Most of the plan will be about aspirations for the village rather than planning policy,” Coun Woodman said.

The other item discussed was the need to carry out two formal surveys of residents; one on housing need and another about businesses and employment.