12. Summary of recurring themes and cross-cutting issues
12.1 This chapter presents a brief overview of (i) recurring themes and points raised by respondents in their submissions to the consultation, and (ii) other points of a general nature relating to the broad policy area which are not covered in the analysis of the response to individual questions. It also presents a summary of comments about the consultation process which respondents highlighted in answering the consultation questions.
12.2 The consultation paper issued by the Scottish Government did not include a question asking for 'any other comments', and this chapter draws on material from across Questions 1 to 10.
Recurring themes and points
12.3 The following points – ranging from the general to the more specific – were made by respondents at multiple questions across the consultation, and were also re-stated in the responses to Question 10:
- The need to increase allotment provision, while also offering some flexibility in the size of plots offered, and to improve support given to current allotment sites
- Waiting lists, and the pros and cons of local as opposed to centralised management
- Delegated as opposed to centralised management, and the need for clarity about the full range of permutations, and the implications for relationships with local authorities
- The importance of meeting the needs of existing allotment holders (who may have accepted a less than ideal plot rather than remain on a lengthy waiting list) as well as those waiting for a plot
- The importance of offering a range of Grow-Your-Own options to suit different needs and circumstances, including allotments and community gardens, with a range of views expressed on whether these options should be considered separately or approached in a coordinated holistic way
- The need for systems to monitor allotment upkeep and for procedures for dealing with under-cultivated and neglected plots
- The need for affordable rents and clarity about rental charges
- The need for transparency and easily accessible information regarding allotment management and administration
- The need for budget implications to be considered within the context of current pressures on public expenditure, and to be accounted for in food-growing strategies.
Comments on the broader policy agenda
12.4 Respondents made a range of points about the wider policy area relating to allotments and Grow-Your-Own initiatives, and support for local food production. Respondents commonly argued that allotments and other Grow-Your-Own activities should be seen as contributing to cross-cutting policy agendas linked to health and wellbeing, community engagement and cohesion, equalities, climate change, biodiversity, environmental protection and sustainability. As such, respondents thought that local food production was an issue that went beyond allotments or local food-growing strategies. They wished to see a cross-cutting, collaborative approach to work in this area (as advocated by the Scottish Government's Becoming a Good Food Nation policy paper  ) involving all local authority departments and local community planning partners, and other stakeholders with an interest in this issue (including from the Grow-Your-Own and community garden sectors), and for this to be reflected in any guidance issued.
Comments on the consultation process
12.5 Some respondents made comments – at Question 10 in particular – on the consultation process itself, highlighting implications for how respondents had answered the questions posed, and for how the responses might be interpreted. They made the following main points:
- There had been insufficient engagement with stakeholders about developing the guidance prior to issuing the consultation paper.
- The consultation had been complex and unwieldy, and the questions had not been clear; in particular, the consultation paper had not provided sufficient background or explanatory information, and the format used for the questions – asking respondents to indicate agreement or disagreement with complex statements covering a range of issues – had not been an appropriate or helpful approach.
- The proposed guidance and the consultation should have been wider in scope to reflect the cross-cutting nature of allotment activities (see paragraph 12.4 above). There was, however, an alternative view that the consultation should have focused more narrowly on local authority duties relating to allotments, and not 'conflated' policy on allotments with policy on other Grow-Your-Own initiatives or other social inclusion objectives.
12.6 It should, however, be noted that the responses to the two evaluation questions included in the online consultation questionnaire showed that most respondents were satisfied with the consultation process – in their comments, such respondents welcomed the consultation and the opportunity to contribute to the development of local authority guidance, and were positive about the consultation paper itself.