May 4, 2011
Local trust adds creative spark
The current financial climate facing local authorities has far reaching consequences. When most decisions are generally about choosing the least bad option, it undermines everyone’s ability to think creatively and positively. All the more reason therefore, for councils to seek out partners who can offer fresh thinking. South Lanarkshire Council have reason to be grateful to East Kilbride Development Trust for some nifty lateral thinking
A SOLUTION could be on the horizon to the problem of grass-cutting charges for pensioners – as well as the long allotment waiting list. Earlier this month, South Lanarkshire Council introduced a £285 charge to owner-occupiers and private tenants who had previously had their grass cut for free under their Care of Gardens Scheme. There is also an additional cost of £65 for hedge-cutting, leaving many hard-up pensioners unable to foot the £350-a-year bill.
However, Kirsten Robb, a member of East Kilbride Development Trust, wrote to the council’s chief executive, Archie Strang, to suggest the council set-up a garden share scheme. This week the council couldn’t say for certain if this was something they would do. However, they have promised to hold talks to determine what is possible.
Said Kirsten: “Although such a garden share scheme may not suit everyone, there would be multiple benefits. It would mean older people’s gardens get done for free and people garden-sharing would get free vegetables. However, the benefits go much further than that as it would relieve the strain on the long allotment waiting list and could tackle older people’s isolation and promote inter-generational understanding. We in the Development Trust went to speak to older people’s groups in EK about this a year or so ago and there was interest there. Obviously, there would be a need to ensure safety for the older person but it works elsewhere so could work here.”
There are currently around 300 people on the council’s waiting list for an allotment plot, but with only 97 plots available across the whole county, would-be gardeners are having to wait a lifetime for their chance.
A spokesman for South Lanarkshire Council said: “We have been looking into how the Edinburgh Care Garden Share Scheme operates.
“We will be happy to discuss this suggestion further with Ms Robb. At this stage, however, it is far too early to say whether or not this is something that could be introduced.”
Kirsten added: “This is good news. As soon as I hear back from the council I will be more than happy to speak to them about this in more detail. There are lots of benefits to the wider community and it’s a great chance to work together. Our main concern would be the safety of older people who offer their gardens, which is why we want to work with the council as we could make a good partnership.”
For details on a similar successful scheme, see www.edinburghgardenpartners.org.uk