RAISING funds for composting toilets and the ongoing upkeep of plots will be on the agenda during The Association of Bolton Allotment Societies' (ABAS) first meeting of 2018.

All plot-holders in the Bolton area are welcome to attend the event, which starts at 8pm on Monday, March 12 at Astley Bridge Cricket Club.

ABAS secretary, David Jackson said 2018 promises to be an "interesting year for the allotment community in Bolton".

He said: "Funding restrictions on council budgets continue to affect the provision of allotment services and societies are increasingly looking to raise a larger proportion of the funds needed for site maintenance and improvement".

"We have lost around £50,000 per year that we used to get from the council.

"A proportion of that was for the salary of an allotments officer, who we don't have any more. Money was also used for the ongoing maintenance of the allotments, so we have to do the work ourselves.

"The big push this year is trying to get composting toilets for the plots that don't currently have toilet facilities.

"We have a lot of families with children and it's important for them."

Mr Jackson said that ABAS is hoping to apply for grants from National Lottery Awards For All for the year ahead.

Another principal topic of the meeting will be the 'Operational Management Agreement' (OMA) - the document which sets out the guidelines of the co-operative effort between the council and the various voluntary site societies to manage allotment sites in the Bolton area.

A revised OMA is intended to come into force from April 1 and the text of the new document will be available to all site secretaries at the meeting.

There is also the National Allotment Society’s proposed new scheme for individual plot-holder insurance and its potential effects on current arrangements made by societies.

A number of other issues will be on the agenda including determining the association’s programme for 2018.

The programme will again include the annual Bolton Leek, Onion and Vegetable Show in August and the annual Allotment Competitions for best plot and best site, which are run by ABAS.

More information on ABAS see their blog-site at abas2014.blogspot.co.uk