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Val Shawcross

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Thursday 22 April 2010 10.17am
Gary - it's not that strange a promise and, perhaps it's one you should think about again.

Tory housing policy since the 1980s has been about getting people to have a stake in their community, has it not? That was what we were told was the purpose of the right to buy. What better way can there be than to enable people who want it a plot of ground of their own to cultivate?

The health benefits of getting out into the fresh air and doing some exercise by digging can't be overstated, and then people can have fresh vegetables to eat and the satisfaction of having done so.

Lastly, allotment holders societies, and the informal links between allotment holders (otherwise known as friendship or neighbourliness) surely fit well into your leader's vision of a Big Society of engaged volunteers.

So, it fits your ideology and has benefits for the individual and society. Why wouldn't you want to support such a policy?
Thursday 22 April 2010 10.49am
Hi Phil

Wanting allotments is not the strange thing, offering everyone who wants one is. There are just under 500,000 people in Southwark and the figures are simply unrealistic; in my view.

Allotments are great. My Irish grandparents had their own small bit of land in Ireland where they grew lots of food, such as potatoes, carrots and rhubarb, which I loved.

I am of the belief that is a century or so we may see more properties built where people do indeed grow their own food for personal consumption, because the cost of shipping food around the world will be prohibitive and will continue to have negative environmental impact.

I am fortunate to have a garden and we grow peas, beans and tomatoes is pots; when the dogs are trying to eat them. You would be preaching to the converted about allotments, I just don't believe the promise made is realistic, although the notion is laudable.




Gary Bland
Thursday 22 April 2010 11.13am
Rambling Phil wrote:
Does that mean the council doesn't have an obligation to provide but, if it chose to do so, does still have the powers of compulsory purchase?

In a word - yes.

The Local Government Act 1963 amendment was that, when applied to Inner London Boroughs, "shall" was replaced with "may". Ie if the Borough feels there is sufficient demand, it "may" provide allotments. Also removed, again only for Inner London Boroughs, was the ability for 6 registered votes (or council tax payers) to trigger this obligation (a practical removal as a mechanism to trigger something that can then be ignored is rather surplus).

The rest of the act remains un-amended, namely that:

The Council of a borough, urban district, or parish may, for the purpose of providing allotments, by agreement purchase or take on lease land, whether situate within or without their borough, district, or parish

The Acquisition of Land Act (1963 and 1981) formalized this process into the compulsory purchase process we are more familiar with now. However this is intended to be a "last resort" and it would be more sensible for a Borough or Council to find existing suitable land or argue that a waiting list was reasonable.
Thursday 22 April 2010 11.41am
How about some temporary allotments for a few seasons (when the estate buildings have been removed) on the Heygate footprint?

I realise you'd need any contaminated material to be removed, but that'll have to be done anyway before rebuilding...

There are also so many other demolished sites in this area where nothing is happening - but where hardcore has been spread over the surface presumably making this difficult (the Volvo garage site & the old Burger King site on Walworth Road for two.)
Thursday 22 April 2010 1.09pm
I'm not an allotment activist, and have no personal interest in this - my lifestyle doesn't allow me to even consider having one. I'm interested in your response though, Gary.

You think allotments are great and accept that you are privileged enough to have your own plot of land, but that enabling others to have that privilege is not 'realistic'.

I believe that was the Tory response to ending slavery, votes for women and working class men and, more recently, the introduction of a national minimum wage and the development of the cross-river tram - "I'm all right, and your needs are unrealistic".

Instead of simply saying that something you agree is desirable is unrealistic, how about working out how it might be achieved?

As Luke has pointed out, there's plenty of space in the borough. Take a stroll up Blackfriar's Bridge Road - there's acres of land there which private enterprise has bought up, cleared the existing businesses out of, and which is standing empty with no prospect of construction because the market and tax systems make leaving land unused the economically 'rational' thing for the absentee landlords to do, regardless of the effect on the people who live locally.

I'm thinking off the top of my head (or possibly some other part of my anatomy), but if each borough had a target of a certain minimum amount of green open-space per head of population, which might include parks, verges, gardens and allotments, you'd create a situation where the council had an incentive to re Balance land use, and for developers to include open spaces in their developments. You'd also have a more pleasant environment, better air quality and reduce the rainwater run-off that contributes to flooding.

Balance that with a Land Tax system that encourages property owners to do something with the land they own, and you might make progress.

Changing the systems so that they provide social goods is much harder than simply telling us we're being unrealistic, but isn't that what political leadership should be about?
Thursday 22 April 2010 2.13pm
Hi Phil

Good email and like many, said with passion. If you are not already part of local environmental group you really should think about joining one, or setting one up yourself. I am sure there will be many people willing to get involved - me included. You, and others, have some good ideas.

No one is the repository of all knowledge and the more ideas put forward, and the more support they get, the more chance there is of something positive happening in Southwark.

Take care



Gary Bland
Friday 23 April 2010 5.35am
this thread has gone way off its topic!! i wonder how shawcross is feeling with the lib dem surge so strong? looking for her next seat???
Friday 23 April 2010 6.12am
I reckon she probably is looking for her next seat, boroughpaul. I know it's a really silly thought but perhaps she should try standing in the area she lives - especially if she hs as "committed" to local issues as she claims to be!
Friday 23 April 2010 7.54am
Hopefully Val Shawcross will continue to represent this area on the London Assembly as well as she has been doing if she doesnt win in May.
Friday 23 April 2010 3.30pm
was that post meant to be ironic?
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