A twist in the plot

PUBLISHED: 11:37 12 April 2007 | UPDATED: 15:05 12 May 2010

AS the councillor who first raised the possibility of re-locating the current allotments to release the value of the land for the benefit of all Royton s residents, I would like to respond to recent comments and concerns. I must emphasise that I write as

AS the councillor who first raised the possibility of re-locating the current allotments to release the value of the land for the benefit of all Royton's residents, I would like to respond to recent comments and concerns.

I must emphasise that I write as an individual councillor and that my views do not represent those of the town council.

Let me first emphasise that I have never said we should sell the allotment site and not replace them.

Nothing should be done which leaves Royston without allotments.

However, there are many things from which Royston would benefit and for which we don't have the money.

One of the most pressing needs is to redevelop the town hall site to provide leisure facilities.

Before I get accused of wanting to demolish the Town Hall, refurbishment, as has just happened with Market Hill rooms, would probably be more appropriate for the main building, but the site could take additional buildings.

Although any proposals to use the land for housing should be strongly resisted, we could consider its use for other buildings of benefit to the community, such as a cinema, bowling alley, museum and health centre. I'm sure others have their own ideas.

Unfortunately, the town council has limited financial resources with relatively small reserves, limited borrowing powers and only the residents to turn to through Council Tax for our spending.

The only asset of any value is the allotment site, so it seemed not unreasonable to consider if there was any way in which the value of this could be released.

I am aware of the increasing request for allotments and that the allotment association would like the town council to buy land for new allotments and it has recently proposed a number of possible sites for consideration.

As none of these sites are owned by the town council, where do they expect us to find the money? Do they expect us to use up all our reserves, borrow money and raise Council Tax, transferring the cost to the 98 per cent of residents who don't have or want an allotment? Would it not be fairer to look at the possibility of self-funding a new site by selling the existing site, then using part of the money to fund a new allotment site, but leaving the balance for investment in other Royston assets, such as the town hall site?

Managed properly I believe we could make a successful transition to a new allotment site, retaining the existing allotments until the new site was ready.

What I ask for is a rational debate taking full account of the needs of all Royston's residents.

ROD KENNEDY

Town Councillor

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