Growing anger over trams

Willie Aitken believes many plot-holders are going to lose out
Willie Aitken believes many plot-holders are going to lose out
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THE Capital could lose huge numbers of allotment sites because of tram works, plot-holders have warned.

Allotment users said the area of land available to release to them once construction on the tram project is finished would be far less than what was taken away by transport bosses before the works began.

The fears come after allotment sites at Carricknowe and Pansy Walk in the west of the city were acquired by the coun cil to create space for a tramline and dedicated bus route.

Councillors said previously that they were considering land in Carricknowe and Stenhouse for release as new allotments.

However, plot holders at Carricknowe said their estimates showed they would receive only a fraction of the area taken from them.

They said the loss of land at Carricknowe would be on top of a sell-off of the Pansy Walk site, which they were told would be given back to them.

Council leaders rejected the fears and said they were committed to increasing the number of available allotments.

Willie Aitken, secretary and treasurer at Carricknowe 
allotments, and a plot-holder for 11 years, said: “I am very angry. We have had a look at the area of empty land next to the tram works embankment at Carricknowe and we will be lucky if we get four plots back. When the council took land back in the late 1990s, we lost about 40 plots here – about 50 per cent of the site.

“The council have said they are going to give us back one site a year but if they are closing one with 40 plots and giving us one with only 13 somewhere else, it doesn’t add up.”

He added: “I am very 
disappointed in the way it’s going. The council are not doing nearly enough and the waiting lists are still very high.”

Peter Wright, acting chair of the Federation of Edinburgh and District Allotments and Gardens Associations, said: “The fear is that we will not get back the allotments in total that were given up for the bus route and the tramway project.

“Edinburgh has a waiting list of thousands for allotments in the city. Within the Edinburgh allotment strategy, we have a ten-year plan to 
provide one new allotment site per year. Compared to other local authorities in Scotland, Edinburgh is really doing well.

“If these fears are realised, allotment-holders would be disappointed and we would be asking the council to make greater efforts to bring even more allotments on board than they are currently promising, especially as food prices are going up.”

A city council spokesman said a decision was made in 2009 to consider the use of excess land beside the tram line as potential allotment sites and added: “The council has a policy to increase the number of available allotments across Edinburgh and we will continue to review the situation.”

johnpaul.holden@jpress.co.uk