11. Requirement for further guidance (Q10)
11.1 Part 9 of the Community Empowerment Act 2015 (the Act) contains 18 sections relating to the provision of local authority allotments. The introduction to the consultation paper explained that Ministerial guidance issued to local authorities would be restricted to those sections where it was thought that guidance was needed to assist local authorities in carrying out their duties. As such the consultation invited views on potential guidance covering ten sections within the Act. However, the final question in the consultation – Question 10 – asked respondents if they thought all those sections relating to functions of local authorities that required further guidance had been captured.
11.2 Views were sought as follows:
Question 10: Do you think we have captured all those sections, relating to functions of local authorities that require further guidance? [strongly agree / agree / neither agree nor disagree / disagree / strongly disagree]
11.3 A total of 218 respondents answered the tick-box part of Question 10. Table 11.1 shows that just over half of all respondents (55% – 47% agreed and 8% strongly agreed) thought the sections of the Act requiring further guidance had been captured in the consultation paper, a third of respondents (33%) neither agreed nor disagreed and the remaining 13% of respondents disagreed (10% disagreed while 3% disagreed strongly). Organisations were less likely than individuals to indicate agreement (agree or agree strongly) with this statement (no organisation said they agreed strongly). A third of all respondents neither agreed nor disagreed with the statement. 
Table 11.1: Question 10 – Do you think we have captured all those sections, relating to functions of local authorities that require further guidance?
|LAs / other public bodies||Third sector organisations||All organisations||Individuals||All respondents|
|Neither agree nor disagree||3||43%||8||44%||11||44%||60||31%||71||33%|
Note: Figures may not total 100% due to rounding.
11.4 Sixty-three respondents (12 organisations and 51 individuals) provided comments at Question 10, and the views presented are discussed below. Respondents offered views on additional sections of the Act where it was felt that guidance was required, as well as commenting on additional guidance required in relation to the sections where guidance was already proposed.
11.5 Those respondents who thought that guidance was required for additional sections of the Act often said that they were unclear why some sections were covered by guidance and included in the consultation and others were not. Additionally the view was expressed that restricting the guidance to statutory local authority duties meant that it did not cover significant issues of concern to the allotment community, leaving important 'grey areas'.
11.6 A few respondents offered alternative comments, with the following views offered:
- Implementation of the guidance would be important, with any gaps in the guidance becoming more apparent at that stage. It was also suggested that current regulations were not properly enforced.
- Detailed guidance was not necessary, did not take account of current successful approaches to allotment management, and risked over-complicating allotment-related activities.
- The guidance would have little impact, and did not address the issues of concern to the allotment community and / or the issue of inadequate allotment provision.
- The proposed guidance was too vague and did not provide adequate channels or options for redress if local authorities did not fulfil their duties.
11.7 Some respondents also suggested that they did not have the knowledge or expertise to comment on this question, and that the wider views of site managers and plot holders would be important in considering this issue.
11.8 In a small number of cases, respondents stated their general support for the guidance statement proposed in the consultation. Such respondents additionally suggested that (i) it was not appropriate for guidance to try to cover every eventuality; and (ii) that there may, nevertheless, be difficulties in meeting the aspirations set out.
11.9 Those respondents who identified specific sections of the Act that should be covered by guidance highlighted the following: section 113 – duty of tenants to grant sublease; section 117 – disposal of allotments; section 121 – annual allotment reports; section 122 – power to remove unauthorised buildings; and 131 – sale of produce (which, it was suggested, should be dealt with by individual allotment associations). However, it was more common for respondents to argue that fuller or extended guidance was required for those sections of the Act for which guidance was already proposed.
11.10 Additionally, there was a range of suggestions relating to aspects of allotment administration or governance (some of which related to sections discussed in earlier chapters of the report) where it was felt that guidance or additional guidance should be provided:
- Responsibilities and liabilities for all parties in taking on delegated roles
- Local authority provision of services such as mediation
- Local authority maintenance and servicing of plots (water, fencing, rubbish collection, pest control)
- The inclusion of allotments in land use strategies; and the use of the planning system to ensure future provision
- Local authority activities related to promoting the wider value of allotments, and their potential role in enhancing urban landscapes and connecting people with nature
- Increasing the transparency of allotment management including with regard to the maintenance of and access to information, and monitoring the response to requests for local authority services
- Use of allotments, and permission to sleep overnight
- Security of tenure for allotment holders
- Assessment and reallocation of abandoned plots
- Action to be taken if allotment holders do not maintain plots to an adequate standard.
11.11 More generally, respondents noted the following:
- The guidance on sections already covered could be further developed, with a specific suggestion from one local authority respondent that the guidance would benefit from being 'island-proofed' to ensure it took account of the particular circumstances in such areas.
- It was important that the guidance was clear so that all parties (local authorities, allotment holders and allotment associations) understood the duties contained in the Act and could work within the regulations.  In some cases, respondents offered revised drafting of individual guidance statements to assist with this.
- The guidance needed to take account of the interests of all stakeholders; in particular there needed to be clarity as to the application and implications of the guidance and underlying legislation for the full range of allotment models including independent allotment sites and sites leased from the local authority.