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.