It will come as no surprise to hear that our AGM on Wednesday 1st April has been cancelled due to the Corona virus. We will email out the various annual reports next month.
We have been receiving a lot of communications from plot holders who want information regarding how the pandemic may affect access to or behaviour on their plots. BHAF has had no communication from the Councils Allotment Service regarding this.
The BHAF Committee agrees that it is strongly desirable for plot holders to carry on using their plots while they can while exercising the sensible measures of maintaining a safe distance from other plot holders and taking precautions while opening gate padlocks and using taps. Many people rely on their allotments to supplement their food and this may become much more important over the coming weeks and months. Current government requirements and guidelines do not prevent people travelling to and working on their plots. These guidlines may change if the country takes measures in a style similar to Italy or France.
Of course all the Government advice relating to isolation if you currently have symptoms should be adhered to and you should not visit your plot under any circumstances if you show symptoms, for at least the 7 day isolation period.
We understand that plot holders are worried that future restrictions on movement may include people working their plots. We contacted the National Allotment Society to express these concerns. Liz Bunting who is the Legal operations manager of the National Allotment Society has written to Simon Clarke MP Minister of State – Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. (MHCLG the department responsible for allotments) to raise the issue of plot holders visiting plots during any 'lock down'. Liz has already advised taking photographs of your crops or livestock (a lot of plot holders across the Country have livestock on their plots) in case there comes a time when you might need to provide evidence for a reason to visit your plot. This may or may not make a difference depending on what the restrictions turn out to be but it might be a sensible move to make anyway. We will of course report back as soon as we hear anything more.
Water Supply not turned on
We have also received a lot of communications from plot holders who are worried that the water will not be turned on at their sites. BHAF has not had any communication regarding this issue from the Brighton and Hove Allotment Service either.
Apparently a communication was sent to Site Reps which told them that water at some sites would not be turned on as the allotment service “will not have the ability to respond to any faults with current staffing levels once the water is turned on.”
We can understand this is very worrying for plot holders, especially those with poly tunnels or green houses. Some sites have water currently turned on and others not. So it is apparently a site by site issue. There have been offers from plumbers to maintain the water supply at their sites. In the first instance we suggest contacting your Site Rep to discuss this as they are in direct communication with the allotment service. Site Rep details can be found on our website;
or contact the allotment service directly
BHAF have emailed the Allotment Service raising our members concerns over this and asking for the decision to be reconsidered. Especially if we can show that plot holders themselves or local Associations are prepared to take on the responsibility of dealing with leaks.
A good place to stay in touch with the latest developments and discussions is on our Facbook group. This is an important time for us to come together as a community and to offer each other help and support.
Below is the information we have received from the National Allotment Society.
CORONAVIRUS EMERGENCY MEASURES
Following the Government update on 16 March 2020 and the ongoing situation with COVID-19, all group NAS meetings have been cancelled with immediate effect and will be reviewed on the 30th June 2020. This is a worldwide unprecedented and challenging time for so many people and of course the health and safety of our members, volunteers, and staff remains our number one priority.
I know many Associations, have taken decisions to cancel plot inspections, seed swaps, association trips, annual judging, scheduled Committee meetings / AGM’s should also be postponed. It is important that any plotholders over 70 years with underlying health issues follow the guidance and information issued by the government. It would be a good idea for Associations to give a telephone or email address for anyone with problems to allow contact.
Associations should display a notice, on their boards, it is important that anyone attending the allotment takes care to stay the appropriate distance from others, avoid body contact and wash your hands at taps, do not wash hands or use detergents in the water tanks and please pay attention to notice boards. It is essential that no unauthorised people are allowed onto the plots for the duration of this emergency, if you do wish to bring someone to assist with work on the plot, please ensure that that this is notified either to Secretary or Site Manager. Careful consideration should be given to introducing anyone over 70 or with underlying illness issues or that is pregnant.
We are living through a crisis the likes of which none of us has experienced before, never before since war time, has the community spirit that exists on allotment sites been more important. Please remember to and look out for one another during these very difficult times.
Members should take the following precautionary measures :
- Keep hand sanitiser in your shed and wash your hands regularly
- Hand sanitiser before opening and closing any gate locks
- Observe “Social Distancing” with each other 2-3 metres
- Do not share tools
- Minimise the contact with each other for example no handshakes
- Do not wash your hands in water troughs
- If you have a toilet on site, please ensure this is cleaned at least twice daily and ensure hand sanitiser is available
- If you have livestock on the site and the restrictions become more severe, take a photograph on your phone of your livestock, based on what is happening in other countries you may have to print off a government form to leave the house but if challenged it would be good to be able to show a photograph of where you are going.
- Plan ahead to ensure that you have food medication delivered to you during this time
- Stay away from vulnerable individuals such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions as much as possible
- If you display any symptoms of coronavirus stay at home and self-isolate for at least 14 days or until symptoms have passed.
Those Association who operate shops will have to consider what action to take, whether to close totally, allow only one person in at a time, currently accepting cash is not a good idea. We must all consider vulnerable families, friends and fellow plotholders and give assistance where needed.