Third Annual Report:  December 2012.
 
I started last year’s report saying that it had been a very busy year. Well that was nothing compared to this one.  We have together and separately attended over 60 meetings and events this year. In places from Birkenhead to Sale and from Chorley to Coventry. There have been times when we felt we might just be wasting our time. Then something good happened and it all seemed worthwhile again.  And, of course, it is worthwhile. The Federation has made a difference and will continue to do so as long as we have the support of all our member societies.
 
There have also been meetings with representatives of West Lancashire Borough Council in an effort to get a few things sorted.  The long running saga of the new leases for the self-managed sites is still a major issue. The new society at Richmond Avenue Burscough has now signed their lease. But both LRAS Skelmersdale and SHS Ashurst appear to be in a ‘passing the buck’ situation that is no good for anyone. 
 
With regards to the status of the West Lancashire sites, the council has confirmed that only Liverpool Road and Houghtons Road, both in Skelmersdale, are ‘statutory’ sites. All other allotment sites in the borough are ‘temporary’ sites. We continue to pressure the council to reconsider this situation. Most of these sites have been in use for over 30 years and should be considered for re-classification. It does not require any legislation to effect this change.
 
As previously reported the management of allotments in Blackpool was taken over by the Blackpool Federation with the support and blessing of the council. Both Blackpool Federation and Blackpool Council received awards for their support of allotments for this action. Blackpool Federation also manages all Council waiting lists in their borough.
 
It is some 18 months now since WLAF proposed to West Lancashire Borough Council that we manage their waiting list for them. Hopefully they will soon take note of what is happening just up the road and agree to let the Federation manage the West Lancs waiting lists. This would be the first step to operating a single more efficient list covering the whole borough. 
 
Now at the end of 2012 I can report that allotment sites in the Borough have increased again.  There are now 21 sites, an increase of 24% with a total of 364 plots on them, which is an increase of about 11%. Most of these sites are managed by societies and nine of these societies are now NAS members, representing an increase of individual members of 53%.
 
The expected new site at the ECO Centre Newburgh is still in the consultation period. We are looking forward to some action early in 2013. The new site at Appley Bridge has now completed a successful first year. The Greenhill Community Centre in Skelmersdale is now working very nicely towards the coming season.

Whilst allotment numbers from the private sector continue to improve the overall statistics, they do not count towards the local authority’s statutory duty to provide allotments. West Lancashire remains very low in the provision-of-allotments league table. Outside of Ormskirk and Skelmersdale, where the borough council is responsible, it is the Parish Council’s who each have this duty within their areas and most are not taking up the challenge.
 
The attached map shows the borough wards and the distribution of allotment sites within them. With a population of 110,300 (2011 census) we would expect at least 880 allotment plots in the borough. With only 364 it can clearly be seen that allotment provision in our borough is still way below the recommended levels. Of the 25 wards in the borough there is still no allotment provision in 12.
 
Once again we must thank West Lancs Community Food Growing and West Lancs Council for Voluntary Service for their help and support during the year.
 
At this Annual General Meeting it is the turn of the Secretary to stand for re-election.  Terry has done an excellent job since he took hold of the pen back in 2010. Nothing that has been achieved during this time could have been done without his enthusiasm and dedication to the job.
 
In addition to thanking Terry I also thank Steve and Susan, both still working full time, for their continued help and support.  Also many thanks to Myra who as accompanied me to many meetings and assisted on all the show stands.

Ray Fowler
Chairman