Fringe Box



Letter: Bellfields Allotment Tenants Will Continue Campaign For Statutory Rights

Published on: 15 Jan, 2021
Updated on: 15 Jan, 2021

The allotments at Bellfields.

From: Alastair Watson

spokesperson for Bellfields Allotment holders

In response to: Check the reality of the Weyside allotments, not the fiction)

Cllr Potter’s letter was rhetoric not reason. It was misinformation posing as fact, vilification of a minority rather than consideration of council failings.

The narrative being peddled by some councillors is that a plan to build 1,500 homes, including much-needed affordable housing, is being subverted by selfish allotment holders.

The total development site is around 100 acres (41 hectares). The three sites comprising Bellfields allotments are eight acres (three hectares). How does 8 per cent prevent the building of the majority of the homes?

Bellfields allotments are statutory allotment land so protected by legislation. Disposal of such land is possible by permission of the Secretary of State for Housing, Community & Local Government. He is guided in that decision by the legislation.

Consideration is also given to the views of the leaseholder, in this case Guildford Allotment Society (GAS), the allotment holders and a report from the National Allotments Society (NAS). This report is obligatory. All of this was known to the planners.

GAS have always accepted that a portion of the land would be surrendered, provided alternative provision was made available, despite the huge problems this would put on the GAS management in dealing with the relocation of unwilling displaced tenants.

Neither GAS or the Bellfield tenants have campaigned against house building. NAS are obliged to advise landlords (GBC), if asked, of the likelihood of their request for disposal of statutory land being granted. This advice would not only be on the legislation but, perhaps more importantly the current “climate” in Government regarding granting assent. NAS are required to give objective advice.

Did GBC seek advice and did they heed it? Only after pressure from me did they seek it, in November 2019. Did they heed it? No, they ignored it.

Are GBC now negotiating with GAS or the Bellfields tenants? No.

Have they approached NAS for advice on their revised plans? Not as far as I am aware.

Are they aware that government attitudes to allotments have shifted? Look at Michael Gove’s statement on TV encouraging working on allotments during the Covid crisis.

Much is made of the planned provision of “affordable” housing. Will GBC give an indication of the projected prices of these “affordable” homes so that Guildford residents could judge their affordability?  Shouldn’t we, the electorate, demand that information?

Are the “peasants” digging the dirt at Bellfields to produce good food for families, friends and often donating surplus to others less fortunate, being selfish in campaigning for their statutory rights?

Are the “mandarins” of Millmead right in acting as if they are above the law of the land?

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Responses to Letter: Bellfields Allotment Tenants Will Continue Campaign For Statutory Rights

  1. George Potter Reply

    January 16, 2021 at 1:11 pm

    All I can say is that it’s remarkable to see such a long letter, ostensibly as a reply to mine, which bears no relation to a single thing I said in my letter.

    Mr Watson has every right to feel aggrieved given the poor level of engagement with the allotment holders, and most of what he says is valid, it’s just that none of that has anything to do with what I was talking about in my own letter.

    I’ll also add that if Mr Watson does genuinely believe that my letter was “misinformation posing as fact” then I’d invite him to point out any inaccuracies and to set the record straight. If he’s unable to do so then perhaps he’d be kind enough to withdraw that remark?

    George Potter is a Lib Dem borough councillor for Burpham

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