ALLOTMENT holders from across the town came together to hear how cuts have wiped out Bolton Council’s budget for the service.

From April 2014 there will be a “zero base budget” for allotments in Bolton, and no dedicated officer for plot holders to come to with their problems.

Instead, the only money that will be available to spend on Bolton allotments is the money raised in rents — approximately £31,500 a year — which will cover site repairs, provision of water and other services.

Previously the council has spent an extra £18,000 on the service.

The change in funding was agreed last year, after the environmental services department was told to find £3.4 million worth of savings for 2014 to 2015.

At the meeting at Astley Bridge Cricket Club, Malcolm Russell, head of environmental services at the council, spoke to the members of the Association of Bolton Allotment Sites (ABAS) about how it will impact on its members.

He said: “The decisions about this are set down by government and by politicians. These are not things that are going to happen. These are things that have happened.”

He added that to be most effective, members of Bolton’s 32 allotment societies needed to join ABAS, which will act as one voice when dealing with the council in future.

Mr Russell said: “We very much see that ABAS has the potential of being a representative society of all allotment societies.

“But we are conscious that we can only use ABAS as the umbrella organisation if it is truly representative.“ Dave Jackson, assistant secretary of ABAS, said it was vital for allotment holders to come together to support each other through the changes.

He said: “There are so many things that can go wrong on an allotment site — this weather is finding every gap in the drains.

“There’s lots of interesting ways to getting around this and I hope we’re going to explore them now. We are going to need to be creative.”