More damage to polytunnels by uninvited trespassers – please check your plots asap

It seems like we have been visited once again by the little bored darlings who have caused damage around the allotments.

I urge EVERYONE to visit their plot, particularly if you have a polytunnel as some have been slashed. Randomly, I found an onion in mine the other day but I don’t have any in so they may also have uprooted some crops.

Please can everyone that thinks they have been affected by this ring the police on 101 (not 999, it’s not an emergency) to report the damage EVERY TIME it happens so that more is done to keep our allotments safe.

Additionally, can everyone be sure that the gates are locked behind you when you go in and go out, even if there are people inside.

If you head over to our Facebook page (and I strongly urge anyone who is a member of our association to join the group if you use Facebook) you will see photographs of the damage and some items that were removed from people’s plots.

Anyone who has been affected, or knows anything about these attacks is urged to report them to Durham Constabulary on the non emergency number 101 and please remember, if you don’t report it, it didn’t happen as far as the Police are concerned so please do let them know.

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Free construction materials!

A construction company has offered our members free waste construction materials including timber of various lengths (often complete pallets and single lengths) and large thick card tubes which have been suggested to be used as planters in gardens. All material would be donated at no cost, the only stipulation would be it needs to be collected from their site in Peterlee.

Anyone who is interested please let Su know asap so I can forward details to you.

Please also spread the word to other members as they may not see this post.

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Gate codes have changed – those who have paid rent will be informed of the new code

We wish all of our members a happy new year and a prosperous 2022!

As is custom every year, we have updated the gate code on all of the gate padlocks and have sent communications to everyone that has paid their 2022 rent.

Please scroll to the post below for more information on paying your rent if you haven’t already done so.

Everyone for whom we have a mobile number; we have sent a text message with the new code. For others who haven’t given us a mobile number, but for whom we do have an email address, we have sent an email. For the remaining who have supplied us with neither, we have written to you.

If you believe you have paid your rent but haven’t received a message in any of the forms above, please email treasurer@newtonhallallotments.co.uk with your up to date contact details and John will be able to assist. Please be aware, he will be out of the country soon so may not be able to respond immediately.

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2022 rents are now due!

Rents for 2022 are now due. They are unchanged from 2021 at:

Full Plot    £44
Three-Quarter Plot   £33
Half Plot     £22
Quarter Plot    £11
 
Rent should be paid on or before 31 December 2021. 
 
If possible, please pay by Bank Transfer to: 
Sort Code:  77-20-21 
Account Number:  31947860 
using your plot number and name as the Reference (e.g. 34b Smith) The account is a Business Account with Lloyds Bank in the name of Newton Hall Allotment Association. 
 
If you wish to pay by cash or by cheque, please contact the Treasurer to discuss how this can be facilitated.
 
If you have taken Manure from the gates but have not yet paid for it, please pay as soon as possible using a separate transaction for this.

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Cow manure available

We have had a delivery of cow manure to the top West Gate (next to the hut – large load) and to the top East Gate (small load) for members to use.

The price is 50p per barrow load (a heaped barrow is fine, just don’t pile on so much that it’s being lost as you barrow it) and is payable either in cash to Jim or John when the shop is open, or (preferably) by bank transfer with the reference Manure and your plot number.

Anyone who needs a reminder of the bank details, please contact Su by email (chair@newtonhallallotments.co.uk) or by phone.

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Your NSALG needs YOU!

We have received a letter from the National Society for Allotment and Leisure Gardeners, of which all our tenants are members, calling on people in the Northern Region to volunteer into one of several roles available.

The letter, with further information, is attached below:

Please consider volunteering into one of the vacant positions so that our region is properly represented within the NSALG

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Top East gate is out of action

Please be aware that the top East Gate’s combination number has been changed temporarily as the gate is not to be used until a repair has been undertaken.

Please use one of the other gates, whose combination number remains the same.

We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.


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Manure, Potatoes and Woodchip available

Manure – 50p per barrow

We have received a quantity of fresh horse manure with straw (barley, I believe) which members can purchase by the barrowload. Please be sensible in how much is heaped in barrows; I’ve seen deposits of manure that has fallen out of overfilled barrows around the place – please don’t take more than you can reasonably transport in a barrow but take as many barrowloads as you like, keep a record of how many you have taken and please make a payment to the association bank account, reference Manure + your plot number and if you could also drop treasurer@newtonhallallotments.co.uk an email it will make things easier for John to consolidate when he gets the bank statement. Anyone who needs a reminder of the bank account details should check John’s rents reminder text that was sent before Christmas.

If you did not receive a text and you would like to in future, please let John know your mobile phone number.

How to use fresh horse manure

Being fresh, the manure ideally should be left to rot down for a year to 18 months, preferably in a heap in order to encourage the brandling worms and microbes to do their work. It is said that fresh manure can ‘burn’ plants with the acidity. Personally, I am going to experiment with making a hotbed in my polytunnel and running water filled tubing through it and under the bed in the poly to hopefully provide an underground source of heat for the warmth loving crops such as tomatoes, chillies, melons and sweet potatoes I am going to grow. Then, this time next year I will spread the manure on my polytunnel beds and will start again with a fresh heap.

Woodchip – FREE

In addition to the manure, we will shortly be receiving regular supplies of FREE woodchips for people to take. The woodchip will be a mix of deciduous and conifer and will be fresh, so ideal to use as paths and mulch on the top of soils, but don’t mix it in for at least a year, maybe 18 months to prevent the decaying wood from using up the nitrogen in the soil. The woodchips will be delivered to the West gate. When the East gate post is repaired and the gate is back in use we will have some delivered to the east gate as well. For a reminder on which is the East and which is the West gate, please see the map on our Contact Us page.

Charlotte Potatoes – £1 per Kg

Also, Charlotte potatoes are in stock. Anyone wishing to buy these should, in the first instance, contact Jim Duffy. His number is displayed on the shed window, but I have been given permission to give it out to anyone who asks (but I’m not putting it on here!).

Happy gardening!


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NSALG Newsletter and survey 2020

Many of you know already that part of your annual rent covers a subscription to the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners (NSALG) which includes a host of benefits to our members.

The society have issued their latest newsletter, and are inviting members to complete their survey on member demographics (gender, location, age etc) which helps them to better understand the diverse range of people who are members, and also helps them to better target their advice and information.

The newsletter and link to the plotholder survey can be found by clicking this link.


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New dates for fires

NB. As per letters that were sent to every member, the November fire dates have been SUSPENDED until the committee can agree a better solution. We realise this will not be ideal for everyone and will communicate with members again on this matter in due course.

Following agreement at the September committee meeting, it was agreed to change the dates we permit members to light fires on the allotments.

The allotments have been at their current site for over 30 years and were established before the neighbouring properties were built, on land that was gifted to Durham County Council by the then farmer for the purpose of providing allotments.

Previously, a set of around 4 individual days plus a week encompassing the 5th November were the only days that fires were allowed to be lit on the allotments. This year, and many of last year’s dates that were set were entirely unsuitable for burning and members were ordered to put out the fires as a result, meaning that gardeners with garden refuse to get rid of were faced with either having to take non-diseased plant material to the local Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC) or to wait a further three months for the next burn day.

This was unsustainable and unfair to those with an allotment at Newton Hall as sometimes gardeners have to deal with diseased plant matter that cannot be composted immediately in order to stop the spread of disease, and may not have access to a vehicle to take the plant matter to the HWRC. Non-industrial composting (i.e. compost heaps, wormeries, ‘Daleks’, compost trenches etc) do not reach a high enough temperature to kill spores and diseased materials. Additionally, ash from wood fires is beneficial to soil health, and having an occasional fire helps to keep the site tidy.

What are the new fire dates?

The original proposition was to scrap the designated fire days entirely and to allow members to burn their waste on any suitable day. This was rejected by the committee, and instead it was proposed that fires be allowed only between the months of March and November, and only on the 1st to 7th of the month, inclusive, to be lit no earlier than 9am and extinguished by 7pm.

The table below summarises this:

Allowable datesMonthsIncineratorOpen
1st-7th inclusiveMarch – OctoberYesNo
1st-7th inclusiveNovemberYesYes
No datesDecember-FebruaryNoNo
Fires are only permitted after 9am and must be extinguished by 7pm

This decision has been taken in order to have a LESS detrimental effect on neighbouring properties; with members being able to plan to have fires on the most suitable days for their schedules as well as the weather, and by not having all of the fires going on one day every three months, it is much less likely that neighbouring properties will be affected, and having only one week out of four means that neighbours know when fires might be lit.

It is worth mentioning that these dates only account for 9 weeks out of 52 in a year, representing less than 20% of the entire year being available for members to burn their garden waste at the allotments, which is in stark contrast to the vast majority of allotment sites which do not place any such restrictions on their members, and where fires can be lit at any time, on any day.

What rules do the members have to abide by?

All members must adhere to the rules they agreed to in their DCC Tenancy Agreement, which states:

The Tenant is permitted to burn materials on the Plot; however, fires must not be left unattended and they must be contained in an incinerator bin or similar device. The Tenant must not bring material to the Plot to burn and the fire must not cause a nuisance or danger to other plot holders or neighbouring residents.

In being considerate of other people, the Tenant must take into consideration the type of materials they wish to burn, the amount of material to be burnt, the day of the week, the time of day and the frequency at which materials are burnt across the entire site.

The Association and Landlord reserves the right to put site specific restrictions in place, which may mean that no bonfires are permitted or are only permitted on certain days of the week and / or at certain times of the day. Any such restrictions will be clearly notified to all tenants on the site and must be adhered to.

Item 11 in the Association rules (opens a new window) states that:

Open fires and the use of incinerators are only allowed on the specific dates that are published by the Committee on the Notice Boards and on the Association’s website.  Do not burn green waste or plastics: green waste should be composted where possible or removed from the site and plastics should be removed from the site.  Tenants must also ensure that they do not cause a nuisance to neighbouring households and cease burning immediately if any smoke is blowing towards the houses at the top of the hill.  Fires must be supervised at all times.

These are in addition to and run alongside the rules in every member’s Tenancy Agreement:

  • The Tenant must not bring or allow anyone else to bring waste material to the Plot or site (except manure and compost in such quantities as may be reasonably required for use in cultivation).
  • It is the Tenant’s responsibility to appropriately deal with any waste material that they generate on the Plot. To do this the Tenant may remove the waste to an appropriate disposal location, burn it (see clause on bonfires / burning rubbish), or compost it.
  • Waste materials put on a compost heap should not include food items or similar materials that will attract vermin.
  • The Tenant must store re-use items in a neat, tidy fashion and only on the 25% of the Plot that is not in productive use.
  • The final decision on whether items are rubbish or for re-use will be the Landlord’s and the Tenant will be served with a notice to quit if they fail to remove such items from the site if instructed to do so.

What can NHAA / DCC do for breaches of the rules?

As stated above, members must abide by a range of conditions in order to satisfy their tenancy agreement and to not fall foul of Association rules.

Anyone who does not follow these risks having an investigation and formal process initiated, which could result in the matter being escalated to DCC to issue a Notice To Quit (NTQ) which is a legal notice and can be enforced.

In all NTQ situations, should the member refuse to give up their tenancy then formal legal action would be sought.


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