HUNDREDS of gardeners will soon have to dig even deeper into their pockets to pay for their cherished plots.
Wrexham Council is raising allotment rents by more than 20 per cent.
The 333 people who rent allotments across four council sites in Wrexham will be hit with the rise from April, as Wrexham Council struggles with budget pressures for the next financial year.
The 59 people with full plots will see their prices for 2014-15 shoot up from £59.50 to £75 – an increase of almost a quarter.
Almost 150 people with half-plots will pay £8.50 extra on their rent – the £35 cost rises to £43.50.
And 125 people with quarter plots will see the prices go up from £18 last year to £19 in the 2014-15 financial year.
All plots require a £5 deposit at the start of the year.
The increases will see allotment holders pay a combined £2,306 to the council in 2014-15.
The rise represents the latest in a series of price increases for allotment holders.
In 2007, allotments cost as little as £48 for a full plot, £29 for a half-plot and £14.50 for a quarter-plot.
The council, which is seeking to slash around £13m from its budgets next financial year, said “budget pressures” meant it had no alternative to raising rents.
Nigel Fletcher, 72, chairman of the Wrexham Allotment and Leisure Gardens Association, says he’s disgusted with the rise.
He said: “I’m so angry. This hike is too much – a step too far.
“So many people are going to be affected, especially the older people who use their plots.
“This is a community in its own right, we all get together and talk.
“But this rise will damage the community because people will simply not be ale to afford it.
“I’m so passionate about these allotments and this is really upsetting me.
“But I’m going to fight this. I’ve contacted the National Allotment Society and hope to get their backing in keeping the prices down.”
Peter Brown, 67, who has plots on Prices Lane, said: “I’m not happy about this.
“When you have allotments, you get you own veg which is healthier, fresher and cheaper then the supermarkets.
“But I have a lot of friends here and we are a community. It is sad people will be deprived of this if some can’t afford it.”
Marc Jones, chairman of Caia Community Gardens Association, which also has allotments said there are many benefits to people having plots.
He said: “First of all, people are able to get out and grow their own food to be healthier and as prices of food rise it can be a cheap way of getting vegetables.
“But it also keeps you fit. If you have to go out and turn over a plot then it can be quite physical and it also gets people out of the house.
“The price rise is pretty grim for people as for many this is their only pleasure. It would be very sad if anyone has to give that up because of a sharp rise in rent.”
The council has allotment sites on Erddig Road, Victoria Road, Prices Lane, and Glen Way in Tanyfron and there is currently a waiting list of 137 people for an allotment in the county.
John Bradbury, Wrexham Council’s head of environment, said: “We fully appreciate any rise in rents or charges is not welcomed by residents.
However, after keeping allotment rents low for several years, our budget pressures have left us with no alternative but to increase the fees. Full allotments are still less than £1.50 per week for rent.”
Wrexham Council said no surplus was raised from the allotment rents.
It said the money raised from the increase will go into the environment budget which is responsible for the upkeep of the allotments.