BHAF Allotment Forum 
January 2020

Dear Site Reps and Plot Holders,

First off all... Happy New Year! Here's looking forward to spring and some good growing weather. Seedy Sunday is coming up at BHASVIC on 2nd Febraury and that's a great place to stock up on seeds and feel the brewing excitement for the start of the growing season. Here we go again!

Our Facebook group has been a great success with lots of interesting discussion, over 350 plot holders are in the group now, so if you have not joined yet and you are on Facebook then come and join the discussions!

If you are a Site Rep or a local Allotment Association member then this meeting will discuss a proposal that may affect you!

Allotment Forum and Site Reps Meeting

Wednesday 22nd January, 7pm, Ground Floor, Patcham Community Centre, BN1 8TA

Site Rep Elections Process
The problem of unused plots
Site Rep Support 

If you have any additional items you would like discussed then please email them to us asap.

Site Rep Elections Process
"What’s the point?"
"Allotments aren’t political we just want to grow vegetables!"

We hear these kind of responses quite a lot when we ask people about Site Rep elections! While what we all really want to do is grow food, it's a fact that allotments are having to become more and more self reliant if they want to survive. Site Reps offer a degree of self management to the service. We have three Site Reps on the BHAF Committee.

It does seem like a lot of effort and bureaucracy to organise elections for Site Reps especially when it’s so hard to get people to volunteer to do the role anyway! However, it is a requirement of the Councils Allotment Strategy that Site Reps are elected and like it or not it’s our job at BHAF to try and implement this with the Council.

Site Reps give up a lot of their own time and BHAF wants to make clear how much we appreciate them and the work they do. The Councils funding has been massively reduced over the last decade and our Allotment Service would be in a much much poorer state without them! S
ite reps were historically just appointed by the Allotment Officer. However, as the name implies, part of their role is representing plot holders.

Sometimes the Council will consult the Site Reps on issues affecting all plot holders and take that as meaning they have consulted the plot holders representatives. So the Allotment Strategy requires that Site Reps should be elected to ensure they actually are representing the wishes of their plot holders.

There have also been stories (from other towns and it should be noted and they are very rare occurrences) of Site Reps who have treated their sites like their own little personal fiefdoms and didn’t actually have the support of their plot holders at all, but there was no way of changing the Site Rep who essentially had the job for as long as they wanted. This is another reason, albeit an unlikely situation, to have an election mechanism to safeguard against that possibility.

We have looked at various options and come up with a plan which we think is the simplest way (in terms of time and money) of organising the election process.

If you are interested, and you must be if you have read this far!
Download the Word Doc from the bottom of this page on our website here;
It’s slightly different from the process suggested in the strategy. If you would like to discuss this proposal please come to the meeting. Remember BHAF is all of us plot holders, we are all members and all have a voice.

There is always the possibility that plot holders are not interested in having Site Rep elecions and would prefer the Council to just appoint plot holders to the role. Hopefully we can bring a conclusion to the issue at this years AGM.
The problem of unused plots

A question that has come up for discussion on the Facbook group is 'Why are there so many unused plots when there is such a long waiting list? We will be discussing this issue.
Site Rep Support

One Site Rep recently told us;

"You contact people on the waiting list they don't reply. You offer several dates and they say they're too busy. You agree a date and they don't show up. You show them plots and they say they'd rather wait for a better one. You let them a plot and they do nothing requiring an eviction after only a yea
r. As you show them round other plotholders have a go at you about things the Council, Site Reps, what other Plotholders have done or not done etc."
Being a Site Rep can be a difficult and lonely pursuit especially if you are on smaller site and are the only rep. Would Site Reps benefit from an informal support group to share tips and advice on how best to carry out the role. If so, what form do you think it should take?

Perhaps opening up the Site Rep role by having elections might encourage more participation and an understanding that the Site Rep is a plot holder like any other who has voluntered to help run the site and represent it's plot holders.


I can well understand the reluctance to get out to a meeting in the middle of winter, however we really do need to all get more involved in maintaining the allotments service if we want it to thrive.

Best Regards,
BHAF Committee