7. Allotment site regulations (Q5)
7.1 This chapter covers proposed guidance on the publication of allotment site regulations and the procedures local authorities should follow in making regulations.
7.2 Section 115 of the Act requires local authorities to make regulations about allotment sites in their area within two years of the date on which section 115 comes into force (subsections 1 and 2). Subsection 3 outlines regulations on which local authorities must include provision while subsection 4 outlines regulations on which they may include provision. Subsection 5 indicates that local authorities may make different provision for different areas or different allotment sites. Section 116 sets out requirements for local authorities to consult persons they believe may have an interest in allotment site regulations. It outlines procedures for giving notice of regulations, considering representations about them and enacting regulations.
7.3 The consultation included the following question relating to sections 115 and 116:
115. Allotment site regulations 116. Allotment site regulations: further provision
Section 115 places a duty on local authorities to publish allotment site regulations within two years from the date this section comes into force, and section 116 makes further provision about the procedures local authorities are to follow in making such regulations. Local authorities should have consulted widely with relevant stakeholders within their areas prior to publication of new regulations. In preparing their regulations, local authorities should take into consideration any existing allotment site regulations already in place at independently managed sites.
Question 5: To what extent do you agree with this statement? [strongly agree / agree / neither agree nor disagree / disagree / strongly disagree]
7.4 All 226 respondents answered Question 5. Table 7.1 shows that a large majority of respondents, 88%, agreed or agreed strongly with the statement provided in the consultation paper, while 3% disagreed or disagreed strongly. Eight per cent neither agreed nor disagreed. A similar proportion of individuals and organisations agreed with the statement (89% and 84% respectively).
Table 7.1: Question 5 – 115. Allotment site regulations 116. Allotment site regulations: further provision
|LAs / other public bodies||Third sector organisations||All organisations||Individuals||All respondents|
|Neither agree nor disagree||0||0%||3||17%||3||12%||16||8%||19||8%|
Note: Figures may not total 100% due to rounding.
7.5 A total of 78 respondents – 15 organisations and 63 individuals – provided comments at Question 5. Comments focused on the role of local authorities, the role of allotment associations, and partnership and consultation in making site regulations and each of these themes is explored in turn.
The role of local authorities
7.6 The most commonly expressed view was that the role of local authorities in developing site regulations should encompass the following:
- Consulting and co-producing site regulations with all members of the allotment community in a local area
- Providing a legal framework including equalities, data protection and compliance with legal and environmental requirements, within which individual allotment sites should develop their own rules and regulations which specify how they manage their sites on a day to day basis
- Working in partnership with plot holders to agree procedures, regulations, implementation of regulations, and the responsibilities of all involved.
7.7 Respondents thought it was very important that local authorities work closely with the allotment community as a whole, including independent and private sites, to support the development and implementation of effective regulations. Most respondents advocated a 'light touch' approach for local authorities, drawing on the experience of well-established sites and associations and respecting existing constitutions and regulations, unless there was evidence that they were not working effectively. Local authorities should be permissive rather than restrictive in making regulations and any changes should be negotiated through consultation.
The role of allotment associations
7.8 Most respondents thought that sites and associations should be free to develop regulations that reflected the local contexts in which they operated, but within the legal parameters set by the local authority. Well managed existing sites and allotment associations with established regulations should be free to continue without interference. However, local authorities should consult with these associations and build on their experience to co-produce guidance and good practice information to support the development and implementation of regulations within the legal framework and to foster greater participation in the day to day management of sites. Centrally developed regulations should be considered for guidance only and it should be recognised that 'one size does not fit all'. One respondent suggested that regulations should ensure safety but facilitate maximum community empowerment and self-determination within the context of the Act.
7.9 While one respondent thought it was preferable for local authorities to determine regulations rather than individual allotment associations, another voiced concern that local authorities would standardise regulations and management practices without considering the different circumstances of individual sites. One respondent was concerned that individual allotment association regulations could conflict with local authority regulations within the same area. It was also suggested that there were too many rules and regulations.
7.10 There was some concern that regulations made by local authorities might be applied retrospectively which could impact on existing allotment holders. A number of respondents said that regulations and management procedures had to be workable, realistic, robust and enforceable and that consultation with the allotment community was required to ensure that this was the case. One respondent thought that there should be regular inspection and monitoring of plots to ensure that regulations were working.
7.11 A few respondents thought that it would be helpful if all local authority allotments shared the same or similar regulations. One suggested that simplified standard regulations should be produced and provided to all local authorities to ensure a simpler, quicker and less bureaucratic process. It was also suggested that a uniform approach across Scotland to certain issues such as termination and transfer of allotment leases could be helpful.
Partnership and consultation
7.12 Respondents frequently emphasised the importance of collaboration and partnership between local authorities, individual allotment associations and plot holders. It was suggested that the regulations should provide a clear framework or guidelines for the relationship between all of these key players. Regulations should be approved by those with active experience of how allotment sites function including site management committee members, plot holders, and relevant community groups and organisations. Plot holders should be considered stakeholders as not all sites were represented by allotment associations.
7.13 Respondents were clear that all members of the allotment community in a given area should be involved in consultation on regulations. It was suggested the statement should read that local authorities 'must have' rather than 'should have' consulted with relevant stakeholders. In one case a local authority had already drafted new regulations but was waiting for guidance on consultation and enactment.
7.14 Several respondents suggested that the two-year timescale for local authorities to publish site regulations (as set out in the Act) was longer than necessary.