Nov 192010

With thanks to Frank Taylor.

An Aberdeen gardener has asked Voice to draw to the attention of all city allotment tenants, the following statement made by John Swinney, Scottish Finance Minister in reply to a parliamentary question:

“A local authority would not be entitled to collect rent under regulations that had not been formally confirmed by Scottish Ministers in terms of section 6(1) of the Allotment (Scotland) Act 1892. Regulations made under this provision have no legal effect without ministerial confirmation”.

The regulation for Allotment rents used by Aberdeen City has not received ministerial confirmation and so the City Council is therefore not entitled to collect rents for allotments.

Frank Taylor has personally withheld rent for his allotments in Bucksburn, and is urging all his fellow allotment holders to follow suit until the Council has had its allotments regulations confirmed as required by law.

Mr Taylor told Aberdeen Voice:

“We simply cannot allow ourselves to have savage rent increases illegally imposed on us again without being able to exercise our right to have an input into the process.  The law was put in place to protect allotment holders from possible excesses of local authorities.  Any local authority that increases allotment rents by 80% and then follows that with further increases of 72% within a twelve month period has acted to excess.”

For plot holders, one of the most annoying consequences of Aberdeen City Council refusing to accept that it needs to formalise its regulations, is that those who neglect their allotments – even to the stage of a state of total dereliction – cannot be legally evicted because any legal proceedings for recovery of possession of allotments must be founded upon a regulation made in pursuance of the Allotments Acts. As a result, our own plots end up affected by weed seed and by vermin.

By the same token, in the absence of formal regulations regarding rents, the Council cannot  successfully pursue anyone who refuses to pay rent for an allotment.

The Council cannot even start proceedings for recovery of unpaid rent without a regulation (also to have been formally confirmed by the Scottish Government) which determines the due date for payment – as a tenant must by that stage be at least 40 days in arrears before these proceedings begin.

Allotment holders should note that the Council proposes to recall their allotment leases and to issue new leases containing new rules(regulations).

The regulations contained in these leases will not have been confirmed by the Scottish Ministers and will be unenforceable until ministerial confirmation is obtained. Ministerial confirmation cannot be given without publication and full public consultation and no allotment tenant should accept these new leases until the full process required by law has been completed.