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Home   Folkestone   News   Article

Allotment fees hike after waste of 100,000 gallons of water at Eaton Lands North plots

23 January 2014
by Sam Lennon

A gardener helped more than treble a council’s water bill after tampering with supplies.

The allotment holder contributed to a loss of about 100,000 gallons and will now have to help pay the cost or be thrown off the plot.

And now all other allotment users will be expected to contribute to future water bills to deter further waste.

Eaton Lands Allotments, Hythe

Eaton Lands Allotments, Hythe

Hythe town councillor Keren Belcourt said: “That person should not be allowed to get away with it. If they don’t pay we terminate their contract.”

The town’s finance and general purposes committee heard a holder at the Eaton Lands North plots had connected to the main supply.

This both flooded their own allotment and led to the council’s annual bill for the site soaring from £395.31 in 2012 to £1390.48 in 2013.

Cllr John Schoner, the committee chairman, said: “We need to discuss whether we wish to take action against the person who interfered with the supply or expel them.

The allotment holder tapped into water supplies

The allotment holder tapped into water supplies

"I suggest a new contract saying that misuse of the water supply will lead to termination of contract.”

Cllr John Griffiths said: “It has been a huge amount of water, about 100,000 gallons.”

Cllr Rosemary Griffiths said: “This is a horrendous waste of taxpayers’ money. If that person doesn’t make a contribution we should terminate his contract.

“We need to check on everyone else’s allotments.”

The unidentified holder had connected to the supply with the possible motive of providing continual watering.

It is thought to have gone on for months, possibly from last summer when there was a heatwave, until the problem was discovered in the autumn.

Mayor of Hythe Keren Belcourt

Mayor of Hythe Keren Belcourt

A council official then visited the land, at North Road West, and found what was described at the meeting as “sophisticated” apparatus affecting the supply.

The culprit was ordered to take it down.

The water bill for July to December 2013 was inflated to £1,104.87 compared to £285.61 for the previous six months.

A leak in piping was also found on the site, which the town council believes would have been an additional contribution to the high bill.

“This is a horrendous waste of taxpayers’ money. If that person doesn’t make a contribution we should terminate his contract" - Cllr Rosemary Griffiths

Councillors voted for the user to be ordered to pay £250 or be evicted from the plot.

They also voted to give notice that all other allotment holders, from April 2015, are to pay an average £5 a year surcharge towards water costs.

The charge is £1 a perch, a measurement of land for allotments, and a typical plot has five perches.

Cllr Schoner told the meeting said: “This would make allotment holders use water more wisely. At £1 per perch per year that is extremely cheap.”

Town Mayor Cllr Alan Smith said: “It would encourage being careful with water.”

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