Friday 18 November 2022

Sutton Allotment Group Meeting


The council officers from the London Borough of Sutton, Idverde who manage parks cemeteries and allotments for the borough and the site reps from the allotment sites have not had a formal meeting since 2019 due to covid, so it was nice to finally get together again around a table yesterday.

The number of site reps attending the meeting was smaller than in previous years, this could be because there were less items to bring up and moan about as Jane Hardy since taking over the role of Allotment Services Administrator for idverde has been so, professional, accessible & helpful and basically 150% better than her predecessor.

Since Jane took on the role there have been very little complaints about the service that idverde has been providing, in fact, we all ended up giving her a round of applause after one site rep thanked her for all her help resolving problems on her particular site, and we all wanted to show our appreciation for the level of service she has provided.     

Jane advised us that 2,246 Invoices were sent out by post on the 6th October and after 30 days there were still 469 people who have not paid for their plots. These individuals have been sent reminders and if they don't pay by the end of November, they will be receiving confirmation of the termination of their lease with LBS. Jane is aiming to draw a line under the invoicing by January 2023 and will provide site reps with a final list of vacant plots and start sending out requests to visit to those on the waiting lists. 

Site reps have been provided with a list of plots following the meeting where the current plot holders have not paid, so that if they see or know the individual, they can remind them or see if there is a problem. How proactive each site rep is on this matter is up to the individual site rep. 

Unfortunately, there are always individuals who just decide they will not renew and don't bother to inform anyone and thus a plot can remain empty gathering weeds until the reminder, termination notice have been served and three months have taken place since the invoices were sent out. 

As at the 18th November there are 1308 people on the waiting list and in January 2023 those at the top of the waiting list will be invited to arrange a meeting with the site representative from their selected allotment to view what plots have become available.

The 1308 figure is a snapshot in time, as there are a number of applications for allotments that have not yet been processed and are not on the database as Jane has been busy sorting out Winter maintenance and the invoicing process.

The figure for Unlettable Plots one the spreadsheet jane sent following the meeting was 154 which is inflated because Stanley Park has a huge amount of plot that are allocated for growing lavender and the quoted figure of 67 plots is more realistically 3 or 4 making the figure for Unlettable plots more in the region of 91 - 92. In financial terms that's a loss of income to the London Borough of Sutton could be anything from £8,000 - £10,692 depending on the size and mix of the Unlettable plots. 

Maintenance issues such as Fencing, Security, Padlocks, Grass Cutting, Hedge Maintenace, Water Supply and Plot Clearance were in the agenda and discussed. 

Trees although not on the agenda, come up again. Trees on allotment sites is a matter that needs greater discussion and sorting out at a future meeting, and it was proposed that more and better guidance needs to be incorporated into the Allotment Guidebook, but again this was not discussed at length and no decisions were voted upon or decisions be made due to lack of time to discuss. 

The pat answer from Mark Dalzell of asking "the council to come and look at the trees" was given, and it was pointed out to him that even when the trees were diseased, that nothing would be done until they became a health and safety problem as the usual answer that "Sutton does not cut down healthy trees and they don't have the money/ budget to deal with the problem" would be given following that visit.   

This raised a request re more open book accounting should be in place as Allotment owners are stakeholders of the service and our rents are taken into the Authority as revenue monies, but no funding to deal with specific allotment items are budgeted for or funding sourced from our allotment specific revenue, and the blanket excuse of "we don't have money to deal with that" is given and just expected to be accepted!, and quite frankly that's getting old and someone needs to fight for the budget to be found from revenue from the rents we pay. 

As always LBS had not booked the room for long enough to allow for all subjects to be discussed and dealt with and there were a number of items that had been requested to be added to the agenda that were not discussed. I'm aware that LBS intended to discuss the significant increase in rents next year, and the requirements for organising nature & gardening clubs on allotments has been requested from Jane from a number of allotments and she wanted that and other items to be added under any other business, that there was not time for.

Everything was then rushed and there was not really time to go around the table for any other business and there was not a formal vote as to if the next meeting should be in six months or 12 in months' time, although one or two of the more vocal site reps expressed their opinion.

Personally, I believe that a meeting should be held early next year, to deal with the information re the proposed increase in the rents, unused plot/ and tree clearances, and the creation of a budget from our revenue to deal with allotment specific problems and other items that did not get the time to be discussed.   

Site Reps, in light of the increase in rents next year and other items that you may have requested be added to the agenda and were not discussed please, let Jane know your views on when the next meeting should be on the agenda, as she will be taking up the no formal vote or decision on the date for the next meeting with Mark Dalzell shortly.  

Thursday 25 August 2022

Allotment Costs for year 2022-2023

Costs for growing starting October 2022/2023

The costs per m2 for this year are:

  • Standard charge 36p/m2
  • Concessions 28p/m2
  • Water charge 11p/m2

The cost of a standard rate 125m2 plot is £58.75.

A concessionary rate 125m2 plot is £48.75

  • The Standard charge has increase 2p/m2 from last growing year 
  • The Concession charge has increased 1p/m2 from last growing year
  • The Water charge has increased by 2p/m2 from last growing year
idverde have informed me that all Invoices will all be sent out via Royal Mail this year in Early September 2022 and that payment is due from the first October 2022 or as soon as you have received your invoice. 
Warnings and Guidance 
1) idverde have once again changed their bank details and the new details will be provided on the invoice, so please do not pay to last years bank details. 
2) When you pay please use the invoice number/ reference as the transaction reference. It's no good using a reference  "Payment for plot 12", otherwise Jane has to look at all the allotment sites for plot 12 and try to match the payee to the person renting the plot, which is not always possible!
It's also no good using a reference for the transaction as "Mums plot" or "Dads plot" as you may not have the same surname name as the person renting the plot, and again it would take time to try and tie up the payment with the actual plot. 
3) If you don't receive an invoice by the 1st October this year phone Jane Hardy at idverde on 020 3876 8806 option 5 and let her know. If it has got lost in the post, she can send another or email you a copy. 
4) Reminders will be sent out in November for those that have not paid 
5) Termination notices will be sent out to plot holders who have not paid by December. 
6) Vacant plots will be offered to those on the waiting list from January 2023  

Wednesday 16 February 2022

Allotment Gardeners Guidelines Version 8 October 2021

Sutton Council updated the Allotment Guidelines in October 2021 with no input or consultation from any of the site reps or as a result of the Annual Meeting that we have not had for two years despite requesting a virtual Zoom or Teams meeting.

It now appears that the updated guide has been removed from the council web site as in a rebuild they are not allowed to upload Adobe pdf files.

Sounds like a poor excuse to me, so the link to the new version has been added on this web site.

Tuesday 20 October 2020

Welcome Jane

Now that Ramona is on maternity leave Jane Hardy is taking over looking after Allotments for Sutton & Merton.

Jane has been dropped in the deep end after the computer company that built the new database screwed up the invoicing system so please, cut Jane a bit of slack.  

Jane works 9am to 4pm Monday to Wednesday only, so if you send in an email please allow for the missing days when waiting for a reply. 

Best email to use for Jane is still   

Idverde Logo

Jane Hardy | Services Administrator
Regional Office: Cheam Park Depot Tudor Close SM3 8QS
UK Support Centre: Octavia House, Westwood Way, Coventry, CV4 8JP
Office: +44 (0) 2038 768806  |  
Idverde WebsiteIdverde FacebookIdverde LinkedInIdverde TwitterIdverde Instagram

Monday 28 September 2020

Giant Cock-up on the Invoicing Front

Most of us received our invoices for the year Oct 2020 - end Sept 2021 over the weekend and those of us over 60 saw that we had been charged the Basic rate and not over 60's rate.

In addition the invoices do not have the allotment site name, the plot number, the area of the plot, the basic rates and concessionary over 60 rates, the water rates per square meter printed on them!

The rates have changed the Council web site hasn't the new rates are Basic 33p per sq. m and Concessions rate for 60Plus 26p per metre and water is the same a 7p per square metre. So an increase of 1p per square meter.

The Invoices are to be modified so the Plot name, Plot Number, Size in Square metres, and the rates are shown as they used to be on the old system, and the invoices re issued to those on the concessionary rates.

It sounds like their call centre is taking a bashing today.

UPDATE Email from Richard Kelly idverde

Dear all

We are aware that there have been issues with the invoices sent out last week.  Our apologies for any inconveniences this has caused you – we are aware that some site reps have been inundated with calls and queries! 

We will be sending out via email a corrected invoice to all concessionary holders today; those who do not have email will be resent their invoice by post.

The plot number and size information was also missing from the invoice which we know will impact on multiple plot holders who maybe considering vacating one or more of these plots.  If you are aware of any such tenant please ask them to get in touch and we can send out a detailed invoice.

Once again apologies for the impact this has had on you.  We should have alerted you to the changes in prices and our switch to a new system earlier than this. 

Yours apologetically


Tuesday 31 March 2020

NAS Covid 19 Emergency Measures

March 31st, 2020

CORONAVIRUS:  What the NAS is doing to help members

The National Allotment Society is working to provide clarity for our members on what the virus outbreak and ensuing impacts will mean for Allotment Holders.  As more information become available, we will be updating our advice to our members, please read the Q & As below on how the outbreak is affecting Allotment Sites and their use.
UPDATED 16/04/2020 

NAS Q & A  On Allotments and Social Distancing
Protect yourself and your family
We are all living through a crisis, the likes of which the country has not experienced since war time. The community spirit that exists on allotment sites is now vitally important.  Please remember to look out for one another during these very difficult times and take all the steps you can to reduce the risk of contagion from the Covid- 19 virus when you visit the plot.
Covid -19 - The virus that causes COVID 19 is mainly transmitted through droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks.  The droplets are too heavy to hang in the air and they quickly fall and contaminate floors and surfaces.
Smaller airborne particles can remain in the air for some time. You can be infected by breathing in the virus if you are within close proximity of a person who has Convid-19- hence the 2m social distancing requirement, or by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth before washing your hands.
Can I still work my allotment during the Covid19 lockdown?
Yes, allotments are a great way of both getting exercise and obtaining food during this crisis.
Can I visit the allotment with my family?
Yes, government guidelines state that you can exercise with members of your household
Why then is the NAS suggesting that we consider going alone to the plot?
This is just a suggestion and plot-holders can decide for themselves but we are looking at the bigger picture and concerned about the risk of sites being shut – as they have been in Ireland and France. If some plot-holders are happy to visit alone or stay away for a few weeks that reduces this risk.
How long can I stay at the plot?
Government Ministers have suggested that an hour’s walk is reasonable and asked us all to limit time spent outside the home. The Society believes that if you are using your plot for daily exercise it would be reasonable to spend an hour or two doing the jobs that need doing for that day and then to return home.
How can I ensure my family’s and everyone else’s safety at the plot?
Do not attend the plot if you have coronavirus symptoms or a family member is self-isolating
Take a flask of hot water, soap and paper towels to the plot with you (cold water will work too).
Use hand sanitiser (should be 60% alcohol content) before entering the site and opening any gate locks
Wash hands for at least 20 seconds after closing the lock, dry with a paper towel
The most effective part of hand washing is the drying using preferably paper towel to remove the layer of dead skin scales - on which virus and bacteria sit. Paper towel to compost heap.
DO NOT touch your face after using anything that has been touched by other people- use an elbow to work the push taps.
Wash your hands again for 20 seconds, dry with a paper towel before opening and closing the lock to leave the site
Use hand sanitiser after closing the lock
Wash hands when you get home
DO NOT gather together for a chat even if you are 2 metres apart
Observe “Social Distancing” with each other 2-3 metres
If you take your children to the plot, ensure that they stay within its confines and do not run around on communal paths and spaces.
Do not share tools
Do not wash your hands in water troughs
Can I drive to my allotment?
We do not have an overall answer to this question. Police forces are clamping down on non-essential travel, some have said that a short drive to the plot is permitted if there is no other choice, others are still enforcing the prohibition on driving to exercise. Check with your local force. Walk to the plot if at all possible and do not take public transport.
What about if I have hens or other livestock to care for at the plot?
Animal welfare considerations mean that this would be seen as essential travel even if further movement restrictions are put in place.
What changes should Allotment Associations make to site management?
Pin up information about social distancing and hygiene on a notice board or the gate, there is a QR code at the bottom of this page that links to our updating page.
Undertake risk assessments and take appropriate action to reduce hazards around any areas of the site that could cause contagion e.g. communal water troughs, taps, and gate locks.  The NAS does have further detailed information on risk assessments and the duty of care for Self-Managed Associations please email  if this is required.
All communal facilities including toilets should be closed
It is essential that no un-authorised 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, those with underlying illness or pregnant women.
Shops - those Associations who operate shops should close or put an on-line scheme in place. Where goods are ordered by email, payment is electronic and goods are placed out for collection. CLICK HERE for an example
Bonfires and BBQs - Could those Associations who allow bonfires all year round ask people to consider their neighbours and not burn anything during this covid19 emergency. Many sites are surrounded by houses where vulnerable people may be getting their only bit of fresh air through an open window. This consideration also applies to BBQs.
Plot inspections and allocations should be postponed until they can be done safely and within government guidelines
It is likely that a percentage of plot-holders will be unable to visit their plots, perhaps a buddy system could be put in place, untended plots could at least be covered.
Click on the link to read about self isolating
Click on the link to read about social distancing
Government advice about the Coronavirus is updated on a regular basis at this link.
For NHS information and advice CLICK HERE
If you are making a poster for the allotment gate, here is a QR code that will link direct to our latest advice.