CLAIMS have been made that many allotments in Bolton are lying ‘vacant and unattended’ despite residents who have waited years being keen to take over a plot.

Bolton Council said all the waiting lists for allotment sites in the borough are currently closed to new applicants because of the extra demand created in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and that anyone who applied prior to June 20 last year will be notified when a plot becomes available.

But Cllr Garry Veevers, speaking at the latest full council meeting, said he was concerned many who wished to maintain an active plot were being denied the chance while many allotments were falling into dereliction and decay.

He said: “I understand there is a long waiting list for allotment site applications and this waiting list has been lengthened significantly by increased demand brought about by people spending more time at home owing to the impact of Covid.

“I am hearing from residents there are a significant number of allotments currently lying vacant and unattended, and it seems to them the waiting list is not just closed to new applicants but also to those who applied pre-pandemic.

“For many people, their allotment has served as a refuge from the tedium of the restrictions of lockdown and we are all aware of the role gardening can play in both preventing and alleviating mental illness.

“Can we have assurances that vacant plots are being allocated to people on the list?”

Cllr Adele Warren, environmental services cabinet member, said:

“Due to council cuts in 2010 and 2013 the council no longer has a dedicated resource for the management of allotments.

“Sites such as Harpers Lane has a site society which works in partnership with the council.

“This includes the society offering vacant plots to those on the waiting list provided by the council.

“The council provides administrative support but is reliant on this voluntary activity but during the pandemic many societies have been inactive as they have been following guidance from the National Association of Allotments and Leisure Gardens.

“As thing normalise will become more active and we anticipate they will be able to offer vacant plots to those on the list.”