New allotments shake-up sheds half of waiting list

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ALLOTMENT chiefs have overhauled the waiting list for plots in Hemel Hempstead to help deal with the struggling service.

Separate lists for each site in the town have been merged into one and everyone has been contacted to update details and establish whether they still want a plot.

The measures have seen the waiting list halve from more than 400 to around 200.

A task force has been set up to look at ways to run the service, which has been struggling with a ballooning waiting list and plots disused for years.

Currently just one officer at Dacorum Borough Council is responsible for allotments and among the options the task force will consider is doubling average rents to £30 a year, closing the waiting list, restricting people to one plot each and handing management of allotments to the private sector.

Council spokesman Sarah Dobbs said: “We have changed our allotments database; instead of holding separate lists for the 16 sites around Hemel Hempstead, we have one centralised list.

“When the new database was implemented, we also contacted everyone on the waiting list to check whether they still wanted an allotment, and to request up to date contact details.”

The waiting list has also been reduced by allocating 26 new allotments in Bennetts End, which have been brought back into use with help from environmental regeneration charity Groundwork Herts. Yesterday volunteers were out constructing water harvesters on the site.

Alan Sweetman, community project officer at Groundwork Herts, said: “All the plots have now been taken. It’s starting to look like an allotment site. There’s veg in some of the plots.”