The headline and story about plans for allotments at Oughtibridge (Council turns down green-belt allotment proposals, Star, 26th June) are misleading. The decision to use this land for allotments lies with Bradfield Parish Council, which owns it. The City Council has helped them identify and assess the site, including two ecological reports, and was going to undertake the construction and management of the allotments on their behalf. As Cllr Shaffaq Mohammed said in the report, this offer has now been withdrawn.
The Parish Council is at liberty to go ahead, find another contractor and let the site on a self-managed basis. The 27 people currently waiting and campaigning for an allotment have already formed an Allotment Society and would be well capable of self-management, a model which is used elsewhere in Sheffield and across the country.
It will be hard to find another site in Oughtibridge. Suitable land is either not for sale or the owners are asking property development prices. It is still not clear how ecologically valuable Kaye Meadows is. Local people will know best how it has been farmed over the years and whether it is in fact “unimproved grass land”. They will also be in the best position to weigh up the desires of those who want to start growing their own food and those who would prefer to keep this as an untouched green space.
This is a case where the decision should be made at local level with the City Council offering support, rather than issuing edicts from the Town Hall.
Cllr Jillian Creasy
Chair, Allotments Advisory Group, Sheffield City Council