Information about why the allotment at 43 Kings Road is vacant when there are currently 18 applicants for the15 available plots

The request was successful.

Dear Chelmsford Borough Council,
According to information already provided me by the Council the 43 Kings Road allotment has 15 available plots and 18 people on its waiting list. Visiting the site last week I saw that it is all grassland and not marked out for plotholders. Last year the site was provided with a new water tap as were other allotments across the town.

I wish to know what is preventing the Council from fully renting out this allotment site to the applicants on its waiting list. From the state of the ground it is clear that no part of the site has been cultivated for many years. I know from a recent letter to me from Mr Van Damme (Director of Parks and Heritage Services)that the Council claims to have deleted all allotment records relating to the period before January 2008 but can it atleast confirm that the site has been completely vacant for the last 2 years and 9 months.

Yours faithfully,

Carol Roberts

FOI Mailbox, Chelmsford City Council

Dear Ms.Roberts,

I acknowledge receipt of your e-mail, as below, dated 26th.September,
2010, and note the contents.

I have forwarded your e-mail to our Mr. Vam Damme, requesting him to
send you a response.

Yours faithfully
Mrs. L. Oliver
Legal Services FOI Officer
Corporate Services
Chelmsford Borough Council
T: (01245) 606435
www.chelmsford.gov.uk
Accredited with the IiP Gold Standard

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Dear FOI Mailbox,
I am requesting an internal review regarding your Authority's failure to answer this simple query.

My recent investigation into municipal allotments has established a reprehensible state of affairs. Sites are being run down and left empty in the face of expressed demand for these facilities from Chelmsford citizens. One outcome of the Council's mismanagement of its land holdings is that it creates cheap housing land.

The way this is being achieved constitutes a legal and financial scandal and it is time those responsible were held to account.

I have met Paul van Damme (head of parks and leisure) but my concerns were not treated seriously. In the course of our meeting he told me that his office only held records relating to the allotment service for the period since 2008. Such a claim beggars belief but for someone who is deliberately falsifying allotment statistics it is a most convenient contrivance.

I would very much appreciate if the FOI officer dealing with this matter makes the Director of Public Places, Keith Nicholson, aware of it and any response it elicits.

Finally, please know that I am representing many others locally who share my misgivings about the allotment service. A LGO complaint has been lodged and, should it prove necessary, approaches to local, regional and national media will be part of our future strategy.

Yours sincerely,

Carol Roberts

REYNOLDS, Jane, Chelmsford City Council

2 Attachments

  • Attachment

    FW Internal review of Freedom of Information request Plot totals for each of the 23 Council managed allotment sites.html

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  • Attachment

    FW Internal review of Freedom of Information request Information about why the allotment at 43 Kings Road is vacant when there are currently 18 applicants for the15 available plots.html

    5K Download

[Subject only] FW:

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REYNOLDS, Jane, Chelmsford City Council

1 Attachment

Dear Miss Roberts

I have now looked at the correspondence and requests you have sent in
and I attach a spread sheet provided by Mr Van Damme's team that we
think will give you the information you need.

I hope this is of assistance. However, if there is anything else you
require please do not hesitate to contact me.

Jane Reynolds
Legal & Democratic Services Manager

The contents of this message should not be taken as necessarily being the views, opinions, policies or procedures of Chelmsford Borough Council and does not give rise to any contract, undertaking or agreement. E-mail is not a secure form of communication. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure that this message has been correctly addressed, it and any associated files may contain privileged or confidential information or details intended only for the sender and intended recipient. If this transmission is received by anyone other than the intended recipient please delete the message and any associated files and destroy any printed copy. Please notify the sender by a return e-mail or, if known to you, telephone the sender and make them aware that the transmission has been received by someone other than the intended recipient.

Dear REYNOLDS, Jane,
This FOI request relates solely to the currently vacant allotment site at 43-45 Kings Rd.

Through previous FOI resquests I have established that it is an operational site and that it nominally has more people on its waiting list than there are plots available.

If this site was truly available for citizens to rent for cultivation it would surely not now stand empty given the Council's own waiting list and plot availability figures. But the Council explains this situation by pointing out that peoples' second and third choice options are not differentiated on allotment site waiting lists. It also infers that people do not take up their second and third options because they are prepared to wait for a plot to become available on their first choice site. So, as I understand it, this accounts for the fact that the 43-45 Kings Road allotment is currently empty even though the waiting list figure seems exceeds its plot capacity.

Accepting the above, it would seem logical that were a Chelmsford citizen to request as his first and only option a plot on the 43-45 Kings Road allotment then this wish could be immediately met.

I am very keen for the Council to confirm that it is possible for someone only interested in taking on a plot at this site to be accommodated.

I am only seeking a response to this specific question and don't require anymore other information with regard to this FOI enquiry.

Yours sincerely,

Carol Roberts

REYNOLDS, Jane, Chelmsford City Council

Dear Miss Roberts

Thank you for your reply.

I will refer your query on to the relevant team and will revert back to
you as soon as possible.

Kind regards

Jane Reynolds

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REYNOLDS, Jane, Chelmsford City Council

Dear Miss Roberts

I referred your query to our Mr Van Damme and please find his reply
directly below.

Again please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any further
queries.

Jane Reynolds

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does not give rise to any contract, undertaking or agreement. E-mail is
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Dear REYNOLDS, Jane,

The latest response of Mr Van Damme confirms that the site is awaiting 'the completion of site preparation and enabling works' before waiting applicants can be accommodated.

The use of the word 'completion' implies that such preparatory activity is already under way. From a personal site visit it is not evident that any such work has been initiated. In light of this seeming discrepancy I should like details of what work has recently been undertaken to ready the site for a return to its much needed and long established use, what remains to do and when it is expected to be finished.

Furthermore, it is clear from viewing the site, which has no broken ground and is all grassland, that it has been in a dormant state for many years, inspite of waiting applicants. I know Mr Van Damme has been in post for many years and would most likely know when the site last had a tenant. Unfortunately he destroyed all pre-2008 allotment records and now maintains that no information before this date is available. Nevertheless I would like it confirmed that this allotment has been tenantless since January 2008.

Thank you for your efforts on my behalf. I am sure you can see that my questions are not in vexatious or contentious in nature. Their purpose is to establish beyond doubt that Mr Van Damme is overseeing the partial dismantling of Chelmsford's allotment resources through, inter alia, the mischievous handling of waiting list statistics. I will not speculate on the deeper processes at work, but will say at this point that West Avenue allotment's recent conversion to a housing development site, with CHP a first option holder, would seem to be the fate intended for 43-45 Kings Road allotment.

Yours sincerely,

Carol Roberts

REYNOLDS, Jane, Chelmsford City Council

I am on a days leave 11th November and at County Meetings on 12th
November, back in the office Monday 15th November. If you have an urgent
query that can not wait until Monday 15th please call in and one of my
colleagues in the legal team will assist.

The contents of this message should not be taken as necessarily being the
views, opinions, policies or procedures of Chelmsford Borough Council and
does not give rise to any contract, undertaking or agreement. E-mail is
not a secure form of communication. Whilst every effort has been made to
ensure that this message has been correctly addressed, it and any
associated files may contain privileged or confidential information or
details intended only for the sender and intended recipient. If this
transmission is received by anyone other than the intended recipient
please delete the message and any associated files and destroy any printed
copy. Please notify the sender by a return e-mail or, if known to you,
telephone the sender and make them aware that the transmission has been
received by someone other than the intended recipient.

REYNOLDS, Jane, Chelmsford City Council

Dear Ms Roberts

Thank you for your email below.

We have also received 3 emails from yourself dated 9th November 2010 via
the FOI email box and 3 dated 10th November.

As some of these pose questions about the allotments where it may be
that information is not held in the strict sense of FOI and because the
email below is partially in the form of a complaint, I am going to refer
all to the Director of Public Places Mr Keith Nicholson to reply to for
you.

Once again please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any further
queries.

Jane Reynolds

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Harry Raffal left an annotation ()

I'm sure you have already done so but in case you have not i would suggest taking detailed photographs of as much of the area as possible.
It seems you have uncovered a truly reprehensible state of affairs and i wish you luck in unravelling it further.
Yours,
HR

NICHOLSON, Keith, Chelmsford City Council

1 Attachment

Ms Roberts

With reference to your emails dated 8 November 2010 [16:53, 17:19 and
17:51] 9 November [17:33, 17:23] and 10 November [16:08] the attached
table provides a response to the questions and information requests you
have made

With regard to your email dated 14 November 2010 I can confirm that the
preparatory work to the allotment site at 43-45 Kings Road in readiness
for letting these plots is now complete. This work has involved removing
accumulated debris, cutting back overhanging vegetation and marking out
the plots. Arrangements for lettings on this site are now commencing. I
can confirm that this site has not been in cultivation since 2008

Keith Nicholson

Director of Public Places

Chelmsford Borough Council

Civic Centre

Duke Street

Chelmsford

CM1 1JE

01245 606775

[1]www.chelmsford.gov.uk

Accredited with the IiP Gold Standard

The contents of this message should not be taken as necessarily being the
views, opinions, policies or procedures of Chelmsford Borough Council and
does not give rise to any contract, undertaking or agreement. E-mail is
not a secure form of communication. Whilst every effort has been made to
ensure that this message has been correctly addressed, it and any
associated files may contain privileged or confidential information or
details intended only for the sender and intended recipient. If this
transmission is received by anyone other than the intended recipient
please delete the message and any associated files and destroy any printed
copy. Please notify the sender by a return e-mail or, if known to you,
telephone the sender and make them aware that the transmission has been
received by someone other than the intended recipient.

References

Visible links
1. http://www.chelmsford.gov.uk/

Dear NICHOLSON, Keith,

Thank you for any input you had in getting this valuable community asset back into use.

Yours sincerely,

Carol Roberts

Lois Speller left an annotation ()

Dear Carol,
I'm very interested in the situation re the King's Road allotments since going to a Development Committee Meeting last December, as I feel there is a lack of allotment provision at a time when food prices are set to rise. Is there any evidence that local people are taking advantage of this provision yet?
Lois Speller

Carol Roberts left an annotation ()

According to Chelmsford BC all the sites on Kings Road are full and have people on waiting lists.
If you visit them you might another story.

Lois Speller left an annotation ()

Thanks, Carol.

Lois

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