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 slwpallotments@idverde.co.uk   

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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  |  
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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

Richard

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 natsoc@nsalg.org.uk  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.


Thursday, 24 October 2019

Fires On Allotments Update


Question to Adam Brind and the Answer received on the 24th October 2019 

5) When will you formally verify the proposed changes re Bonfires on Allotments

I have circulated the revised text and only had three comments back, all asking about open fires and community events for bonfire night.  I think an additional line saying: "Open fires may be held on site for 5 evenings before or after 5th November to celebrate Guy Fawkes Night".

The text now reads as follows:

Policy P22

From 1st January 2020 open bonfires are not allowed on the council’s allotment sites. However waste material that cannot be disposed of by composting or other means may be burned in an incinerator or clean oil drum during the period 1st October to 15th March.  Fires should not be lit more than 2 hours before dusk and are not permitted on Bank Holidays during this period. Material that is damp or green must not be burnt until it dries out fully. See the allotment Gardeners Guidelines for more information on how to dispose of material without burning and never burn materials such as plastics that may cause pollution.

To allow for Guy Fawkes night celebrations, open bonfires are permitted on allotment sites for 5 nights before and five nights after 5th November each year.  Green, damp and plastic materials must not be burnt on open bonfires. 

Note that by law you could be fined if you light a fire and allow the smoke to drift across the road and become a danger to traffic.  If you cause a nuisance by frequently having fires or allowing smoke to drift into neighbouring properties the Council can issue an ‘abatement notice’ and you can be fined up to £5,000 if you do not comply with the notice.  In addition, failure to abide by this policy will result in termination of the allotment agreement. 

This Policy supersedes the guidance in Version 6 - 2018 of the Allotment Gardeners Guidelines.

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Bonfire Ban - Lack of Consultation

Just before the annual gardening group meeting one of the Site Reps became aware of the draft Parks and Open Spaces Strategy for 2019 – 2026 in which Policy P22 had been added which states 

“From 1st January 2020 fires of any kind will no longer be allowed on the council allotment sites. Failure to abide by this policy will result in termination of the allotment agreement of any plot holder found having a fire on the site. This Policy supersedes the guidance in version 6 -2018 of the Allotment gardeners Guide. “

The assembled Site Reps brought this matter up under any other business, as

1) There had been no discussion / consultation with the site reps and the 2500 or more plot holders in the borough regarding the possible change in policy.

2) The on line consultation period had expired, it has been reopened following our complaint however there are no specific questions in relation to Fires on Allotments so we are still not being consulted.

3) The Policy states “fires of any kind” thus could be taken as including those for brewing tea of coffee, and BBQ’s and as written the policy is unclear.

The whole concept of the Gardening Group Meeting is for the consultation and discussion of these matters and at a previous meeting a few years ago it was agreed that bonfires would not be allowed between the 1st April to the 30th September.

This allows for the burning of wood, weeds that cannot be composed and tomato and potato blighted foliage and the production of wood ash that is a valuable source of fertiliser and alternative for lime, It also allowed new plot holders taking over new plot to burn the weeds and timber debris they inherited on a vacant plot between October and the end of March.

During this time of year it gets darker earlier and there are not as many neighbours with their windows open. With Bonfire night in November it allows for the drying of weeds and cleared vegetation in October and the burning on the 5th November.

With thirty six allotment sites with over 2,500 plot holders we are a significant group within the borough and should be consulted on this issue. There are many things that can be done to reduce any complaints regarding bonfires and stove fires on allotment sites causing nuisance, we have not had the opportunity to explore and discuss these.

I would suggest that as many of us write to our local councillors as possible, stressing how difficult this is going to make things for us, and the fact that we have not been consulted at all on the change, particularly that we have not been given the opportunity to work out a compromise to alleviate the problem. You can find out who your local Councillor by putting in your post code in this link https://moderngov.sutton.gov.uk/mgFindMember.aspx 

Your Neighbourhood Manager can be found here