6. Access to allotment and allotment site (Q4)
6.1 This chapter covers proposed guidance on the duty of local authorities to provide reasonable access to allotments and allotment sites which it leases to tenants, as set out in section 114 of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 (the Act). The proposed guidance elaborated on the duties set out in the Act by referring to making reasonable adjustments to ensure all tenants, including those with a disability, can access their allotment plots.
6.2 The consultation document included the following question on section 114:
114. Access to allotment and allotment site.
This section places a duty on local authorities to provide reasonable access to allotments and allotment sites that it leases to tenants. Reasonable adjustments should be made in order that all tenants, including those with a disability, have physical access to their allotment plot.
Question 4. To what extent do you agree with this statement? [strongly agree / agree / neither agree nor disagree / disagree / strongly disagree]
6.3 All but one of the respondents to the consultation answered the tick-box part of Question 4. Table 6.1 shows that the great majority of respondents, 93%, agreed or agreed strongly with the statement and only 2% disagreed or disagreed strongly. Five per cent neither agreed nor disagreed. None of the organisations disagreed with the statement. While almost two-thirds of respondents overall agreed strongly with the statement, third sector organisations were somewhat less likely than other respondents to agree strongly (50% compared to 60%).
Table 6.1: Question 4 – 114. Access to allotment and allotment site
|LAs / other public bodies||Third sector organisations||All organisations||Individuals||All respondents|
|Neither agree nor disagree||1||14%||0||0%||1||4%||11||6%||12||5%|
Note: Figures may not total 100% due to rounding.
6.4 A total of 72 respondents – 12 organisations and 60 individuals – provided comments at Question 4. Respondents offered general views on the duty and associated guidance, as well as commenting on the practicalities and constraints in complying with duties included in the Act, as set out in the guidance, and the resource implications of taking forward any required improvement work.
General views on the duty and associated guidance
6.5 Almost all respondents endorsed the importance of ensuring access to allotment sites, and agreed that local authorities should fulfil their duty to ensure physical access to all allotments that they lease to tenants, including to those with disabilities. Many of the comments simply stated the respondents' view that access was 'vital'. While respondents agreed in principle that allotments should be accessible to all, they asked for some clarification of what was meant by 'reasonable access' and 'reasonable adjustments', and suggested that examples might be included in the guidance.
Practicalities and constraints
6.6 Respondents often recognised that it might not be possible to ensure full access in all cases because of the terrain on which some allotments were sited. Some suggested that, where possible, efforts should be made on all sites to provide accessible plots and raised beds near hard standings at the entrance to allotment sites, and to make sure that paths were well maintained for people with disabilities and wheelchair users. It was noted that this was already the case on some sites – two local authority respondents stated that they were committed to ensuring equality of access on their allotment sites within the constraints of the sites themselves by providing a range of plot sizes and growing formats. It was recognised that the needs of individuals change over time and that it might be necessary for existing allotment holders to move to a more suitable plot or site if there were access issues on their current allotment. Others mentioned the need to keep access roads to allotments in a good state of repair and to make sure allotment holders had access to parking spaces near the site.
6.7 A number of respondents, both individuals and third sector organisations, voiced concerns about the extent to which new work to improve access would be necessary on long-established sites. They questioned who would pay for any work to improve access. In some cases, allotment associations have already taken measures to improve access which they have funded themselves. They did not, however, have the resources to undertake larger scale work on site infrastructure to increase accessibility and thought that the local authority should provide and maintain access to allotment sites and fund other modifications. Some suggested that allotment associations work with local authorities to identify and implement 'reasonable adjustments' and that the local authority should make grants available to associations to help them undertake this work.