RYE allotment holders will be hit by a huge increase in the costs of plots from next month as Rother Council pushed ahead with its proposals to raise charges this week.
The cost of a small plot shoots up from £25 a year to £45, while a large plot goes up from £52 to £85.
Rother claims that it is still heavily subsidising plots but holders and Rye councillors have questioned this and claim they have repeatedly asked the district council for a break-down of the costs, which it has been unable to provide.
Rye has two allotment sites at Love Lane and South Undercliff.
On Monday, the council’s Cabinet resolved to adopt new fees and charges from April 1, but the move did not go unchallenged.
Cllr Martin Kenward described the allotment increases as “excessive” and said: “While I accept such facilities should not be subsidised, if we let the cost get beyond us it’s our fault. We should have a steady increase policy.”
Kim Ross, Rother’s head of amenities, said that even with the latest increases in allotment fees, the council would still be left paying £90 per small plot.
Cllr Robin Patten urged allotment holders to form their own groups to self-administer plots, relieving the council of various costs involved and so keeping charges down.
Rye Allotment Holders Association has already said it will run the sites at no cost to the local charge payer, but only if Rother relinquishes its disputed ownership of the sites and hands them back to Rye Town Council.
Council leader Carl Maynard said: “In these difficult financial circumstances we can no longer afford to subsidise. While the rises are appreciable, they are still not excessive.”
Rye resident Andy Stuart described the increase e as “stinging” while Rye councillor Mary Smith said: “Rother claims incredibly high expenses for managing the two sites in Rye . Where is the evidence of this?
A legal battle between Rye Council and Rother over allotment ownership continues