Row over list for allotments


A heated exchange took place at the December meeting of Belford Parish Council after a resident raised concerns about how allotments were allocated.

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

“It’s not been 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.”

Mr Stafford explained that he had applied for an allotment in December last year, but was told that he would be put on a waiting list as none were available.

He said that he asked how many people were on the waiting list, but received no reply, asked again in May and got no response so put in a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

This led him to discover that he was top of the list, but ‘I wondered if I was top because I complained, which isn’t what I wanted’.

Mr Stafford then received a letter last week informing him that allotment rents for next year would be collected in January, but he still wasn’t aware if he had an allotment or not.

Following some discussion, Mr Stafford said it was ‘ridiculous’ that he had to put in an FOI to find out about the waiting list.

But an angry chairman, Coun Brenda Stanton, said: “I’m sure we will find just as many people who think the parish council do a great job. To impugn the name of the parish council is despicable.”

She added that as chairman she was ultimately responsible and apologised that his emails were not answered.

Coun Chris Rosby, who is responsible for the management of the allotments in Belford, was not at the meeting.

Meanwhile, Coun Tracy Bell told members that there is now enough money to purchase a basket swing for the newly-named Belford Central Park and it should be installed before March.

The group is in the process of applying for more grants which will be put towards phase three, which will be equipment for toddlers.

Coun Guy Renner-Thompson had attended a meeting about the future of bus services, reporting that Belford is in a pretty good position as it is on the main routes along the A1.

There had been some discussion about setting up transport hubs in the county with Belford in a good location for the north.

Anyone interested in the Belford Neighbourhood Plan can now go online to the website – www.belfordneighbour

Coun Busher Keys raised concerns that despite the county council coming out, there was still flooding in relation to the drain at the bottom of Croft Field.

Coun Karon Ives mentioned that she had had further inquiries about the piece of land at the top of Crofters Court, which has become a dumping ground for all sorts of rubbish.

The issue has been raised before, but it remains unclear as to who owns the land.

The handrails have now been installed at the steps on High Street.

The next meeting of Belford Parish Council takes place on Thursday, January 21, at 7pm, in the Bell View Resource Centre.