9. Section 124 – Promotion and use of allotments: expenditure
9.1 Section 124 permits local authorities to incur expenditure for the purpose of promoting allotments in their areas and providing training to allotment tenants and potential tenants about the use of allotments. Subsection (2) requires that local authorities take into account the desirability of exercising this power in relation to communities which experience socio-economic disadvantage.
9.2 In the 2017 Greenspace Use and Attitudes Survey by greenspace Scotland, 32% of people said that they lacked the knowledge or skills to grow their own vegetables or fruit.
9.3 In exercising the power in section 124, local authorities should consider how best to promote allotments in their area. This could include linking with organisations such as health boards and housing associations to encourage non-growers to visit allotment sites in their areas. This may be appropriate in recognition of the wider benefits growing food has in our communities. Special consideration should be given to how best to engage with communities in areas of multiple socio-economic disadvantage.
9.4 When considering action to promote allotments, local authorities may wish to take into consideration the possible increase in demand for allotments, particularly if allotments in that area are already oversubscribed. There is a balance to be struck between raising and meeting expectations about availability of allotments.
9.5 Local authorities should use waiting lists to understand the demand for allotments in their areas and may choose to offer funded training to those persons on the list who are going to be offered a lease. This will ensure that new allotment-holders have the confidence and skills to begin growing their own food successfully. Such training would be optional for new allotment holders.
9.6 There may be merit in local authorities considering the value in offering training to existing tenants should there be issues identified surrounding allotment cultivation or allotment maintenance when landlord inspections are performed in accordance with section 115.
9.7 When considering what training to provide to tenants or prospective tenants, local authorities may wish to consider a range of options. These may include electronically signposting to a website or range of sites containing online guidance, and partnership working with other individuals and organisations to upskill both potential and existing tenants. Local authorities may also consider facilitating a “buddy” scheme to match new tenants with existing tenants who are willing to volunteer to provide support and advice to support a new tenant. Local authorities may wish to consult with local stakeholders prior to developing and offering training. Further guidance relating to signposting to alternative options or learning opportunities is included at paragraphs 14.1 to 14.3 of the section 119 food-growing strategy guidance.
9.8 To make best use of resources, local authorities should ensure that any training they choose to provide does not duplicate existing training. A wide range of formal and informal food-growing and horticultural training opportunities is currently available. A list of such training is available on the Grow Your Own Working Group’s website, and accessible via the following link : http://www.growyourownscotland.info/education-and-training/
9.9 It is for the local authority to determine the content of any training that it wishes to offer. The authority may wish to include in its training schedule, in addition to the fundamentals of food-growing and biodiversity, other relevant matters including the safe use, storage and disposal of fertilisers, herbicides, fungicides and pesticides (and their use versus other options such as organic approaches). Training or skills awareness sessions may also address pollution awareness, biodiversity, climate change and health and safety considerations.
9.10 Local authorities may wish to concentrate on offering training to new tenants on new allotment sites where there are few, if any, experienced allotment tenants to offer support or guidance to new tenants.
9.11 When including measures to identify land that may be used as new allotment sites in their food-growing strategies, local authorities may also consider whether it is appropriate to include possible training needs and training costs relating to that land, i.e. for potential new allotment tenants on the site.
9.12 When local authorities are determining whether to exercise the power to incur expenditure for the purpose of promoting allotments or providing training, as set out in section 124(2), they should have regard to the costs as well as the benefits of providing such services. Local authorities should evaluate which activities would present best value for money, and note that such activities are not mandatory.
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