Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Cardigan Allotments Progress

It's been a very productive morning in Ceredigion County Council's Cabinet.

The Council's ruling executive has supported officer's recommendations to discuss the terms and conditions for a lease on the Feidrhenffordd Allotments site with the recently constituted and enthusiastic Feidrhenffordd Allotments Association.

A Historial Saga
This brings us near to the conclusion of a saga that has gone back almost 40 years.

The allotments have a long history in Cardigan, going back to the mid-19th century, back to the days of the old Cardigan Common. When a large part of this land was sold early in the 20th century to become what is now the King George V Playing Fields, the allotments moved up to their current site just below Tesco's and inside the by-pass (which when created in the early 1990s, took up some of the site).

Cardigan and its Common (circa 1834)
Who owns the site? Well, since local government re-organisation back in 1974, there has been a long running disagreement between a number of local residents and allotmenteers and the District / now County Council. Is is the latter that owns the site or indeed, Cardigan Town Council?

Moving Forward
Whoever is right, in my role as a County Councillor, the most important thing for me was to see these allotments being cultivated and used in its entirety. By doing so, we could then truly safeguard the site for future generations to use.

The Town Council, whilst I was in the chair as Mayor last year, tentatively agreed to enter into negotiations with the County Council about the details of a lease but it's fair to say that a number of Town Councillors were happier to allow the County Council to deal directly with the Association. I and many others on the other hand felt it would better safeguard the site if the Town Council were to take on the lease with the County Council and to then sub-lease it to the Association.

Cardigan's Feidrhenffordd Allotments - the long strip at the
bottom and piece of land on the right.

But, after discussions with County Council officers just before Christmas, we were informed that the legal department were able and willing to put in a clause to an agreement between the County Council and the Association that if the latter were to disband for any reason in the future, then the Town Council would get first refusal on taking over the lease.

At our Town Council meeting at the start of this month, this written security was welcomed by the majority of the Council including myself. We agreed as a result of this, to support a direct lease from the County Council to the allotments association so to cut out the 'middle man' as it were.

Cabinet Approval
This morning, Cabinet agreed to this way forward and also rejected a private bid by a local business for a part of the allotments site which had further complicated matters. These offers have been made before and this one, the first since 2003, threatened to de-rail what had been a necessarily slow and delicate process of moving this long and fraught situation towards a successful conclusion.

We're nearly there now. The Association of course need to agree terms with the County Council and I hope that this will not be too complicated, but the principle has now at least been agreed. I hope that in the next few months, a lease will be signed that will safeguard the Feidrhenffordd Allotments for the foreseeable future.

This is what the association, who deserve much credit for their enthusiasm and commitment want, this is what the Town Council want and this is what the residents of Cardigan want.

I'm pleased that the County Council has seen fit to agree that this is the correct way forward.


  1. Well done Mark.
    As they kept saying on Tiswas... "This is what we want!".

  2. great Mark, I feel as if we are on the home straight! This is the best news in many years for Cardigan Allotments. Thankyou for the help that you have given us at the Allotment Association by picking up our campaign last year and succesfully piloting us through the local political whirlpools!

  3. Tom, I'm delighted to have played my part.

    The 'home straight' is a good analogy. We're nearly there now and it's very exciting.

    It's been a long process as you say but because of the historical legacy, I felt that it was important to play this out one careful piece at a time.

    The key to this in my opinion has been the commitment, dedictaion and willingess of the Allotment Association to move forward from the battles of the past, to secure for the future, this site.

    Keep in touch and if there's any complicated hurdles thrown in your way over the weeks ahead, you know where I am.