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Council loses the plot

February 20, 2012
By

An Eastleigh man decided that it was time to nail his colours to the mast and take a stand over the increased annual charge for his allotment. In the time honoured tradition of this country, Alex Mullins, Chairman of Eastleigh and District Allotments Association, challenged Eastleigh Borough Council through the courts over the dramatic 60% price increase, from £25 to £40 a year.

During the course of the hearing a submission was given that the Council had not considered the views of Allotment plot holders and relied on ‘discussions’ with other Councils and how they accessed charges for their allotments. No evidence was offered by the Council team as to the rent increases and charges for other services such as tennis clubs or bowling, beside the increase for allotments.  Indeed, there was clearly a lack of knowledge from the council team on any of these facilities, for no explanation by the Council was offered in an attempt to explain the so-called ‘necessary’ increases

With the representatives from Eastleigh Council unable to explain, it fell to Mr Mullins to provide the answers required by the court. Mr Mullins had clearly researched this matter thoroughly and told The Eastleigh News that he even gave the court a potted history of allotment charges over past times that demonstrated the charges over the past 20 years, had gone up some 400%.

With the council’s case clearly in tatters and woefully executed, the Judge agreed with Mr Mullins and so ruled that a reasonable rent increase in 2010 should have been 9%, not 60%.

Furthermore, the Judge also ruled that the council should provide Mr Mullins with a refund of the difference of the increase deemed unfair by the court. Mr Mullins, generous in victory, turned down an immediate refund in order to have the following years charge accordingly amended in line with the judgement. Mr Mullins was awarded his costs and the Council ordered to refund according to the figures discussed in Court

Eastleigh Borough Council have seven days to consider their position and any subsequent response.

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4 Responses to Council loses the plot

  1. Stephen Slominski on February 20, 2012 at 11:06 pm

    Well done Mr Mullins…now we see how the council has been able to hold down Council Tax increases – through inflation busting rises to services and the introduction of new taxes to previously free activities like for example, parking outside your own house.
    Surely the most despicable act was the decision to start charging disabled drivers to park in Eastleigh.
    Quite shocked today to discover the council’s Bulky refuse collection service would charge £40 to remove a mattress from central Eastleigh to Woodside dump.
    No wonder fly tipping is on the increase

  2. Peter Stewart on February 21, 2012 at 9:02 am

    It has been alleged the LibDems are “anti-car”. I would have to agree with that assessment. In the case of parking problems outside people’s homes, certainly something had to be done to stop commuters using the roads as a free car park. But surely the cheapest and most efficient answer would have been to limit parking to 2 hours except for cars displaying a valid permit. How much would a permit cost…perhaps £5 to issue. The policing of the scheme goes on anyway, so there would be no difference in policing costs. The current scheme costs residents dearly but I’m not sure how much.

  3. Greg Hewitt on February 21, 2012 at 9:34 am

    I spoke about this on the Daily Echo website. Someone made a comment: “We know there’s going to be a time when this world just can’t grow enough food through farms”. As our oil starts to run out, we need to be more resilient – grow our own food, and rely less on food being transported to shops and supermarkets – a big carbon footprint.

    This is a great achievement for Alex and Eastleigh and District Allotments! Allotments should be incentives for growing your own food, and by reducing this price, it’ll mean more people will be able to want them.

    Eastleigh Transition Network has Highbridge Community Farm project – a community space to grow your own. Anyone waiting for allotments can join this for just £10 a year – as long as you put in 10 hours a month towards the work. Email highbridgefarmcp@gmail.com if you are interested.

  4. John Edwards on February 21, 2012 at 11:23 am

    Good points Greg about growing our own food. The more we develop gren firld sites that once bore crops, the more difficult it will become not to rely upon imported foodstuffs.

    The Highbridge scheme is a very good one indeed that produces some fine crops… I know through a couple of friends who have a plot there who grew some of the biggest parsnips I have ever seen.

    We still have to await the response from EBC to see where the story takes us all next.

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