The City Neighbourhoods Committee (CNC), chaired by Cllr Alun Davies, has made decisions on allotment fees and future investment in its assets in the centre of St Albans. The CNC oversees the management of local assets in the City, including smaller parks, public toilets and allotments, on behalf of St Albans City and District Council.At a meeting on Wednesday 27 September, the CNC looked at the pricing structure for city centre allotment fees over the next four years. Current fees do not cover the cost to the District Council of servicing and managing the sites.
The CNC decided to increase allotment fees for the next four years annually by the rate of inflation, as measured by the Consumer Prices Index each December.
Cllr Alun Davies, Chair of the City Neighbourhoods Committee, said: “There is a significant shortfall between the income received from allotment fees and the cost of managing and servicing the sites. The Committee considered that some increase was needed to help bridge that gap and looked at a range of options. Having listened to the views of allotment holders, we have decided to minimise that increase by keeping it line with inflation.”
Separately, the CNC looked at options to increase its special expenses budget in the future so it can invest more in the assets it manages. The special expenses budget is the CNC’s main source of revenue and currently amounts to £769,312 per annum.
The CNC has decided to ask Full Council for an increase in its special expenses later this year when the Budget is considered in December. The amount requested has yet to be finalised, but it will be below the cap by which Council Tax can be increased without a referendum.
Cllr Davies added: “The potential for investment in any new projects, for example, like the refurbishment of playgrounds, is currently limited without increasing the special expenses budget. The CNC has decided to ask Full Council for an increase so that it can invest in its parks and green spaces and other assets.”
The CNC also considered the process for the adoption of Green Space Action Plans for the parks and green spaces that it manages. The plans set out how the land will be maintained in the future and what improvements will be made.
Members suggested that when officers consulted key stakeholders on the plans, this should include residents’ associations, residents’ forums and ‘Friends’ of the park or green space.
The CNC agreed to delegate the adoption of Green Space Action Plans to the Head of Community Services, in consultation with associated ward councillors and the Chair of CNC.
Cllr Davies said: “Members felt that this process would ensure that when Green Space Action Plans are being finalised the views of the local community will be considered.”