Tuesday, 16 September 2008

The Allotment Officer's visit

Just after Manger had left, I looked up and saw two women walking along the track. I guessed immediately who one of them must be, and I was right - it was Emma, the Allotment Officer. Hah! I thought, now's my chance to bring up all my"issues" with her.

She is very nice, Emma, but she is trying to do a full-time job on a part-time basis, and is also having to contend with sluggardly contractors. She told me the number of allotmenteers she had to deal with - I forget the figure - but even so, that's no excuse for ignoring the majority of my emails and phone-calls. I did get my new allotment eventually, after bombarding her with communications, but it took me months, and was very frustrating.

It was interesting to hear her tell it from her side though - of the difficulties she's having trying to do her job. I believe she is sincere, but as she admitted herself, maybe too nice - maybe she isn't being forceful enough.

She said the Cat allotment was definitely mine now, but that she would send me a copy of the form I filled in, plus a copy of the regulations (at the moment, I don't have a contract or a copy of the rules). Her companion, whose name I forget, said she was the Allotment rep, but I've never seen her before. She has an allotment way down on the other side. She tried to tell me how to clear my allotment, assuming of course that I was a raw beginner, and she was sooooo experienced after three years on the site (I bet she's got raised beds - she looked the type). So anyway, I had to show them my other allotment, and as I did, I took the opportunity to complain about the Salvation Army's neglect and ask Emma if anything could be done about it.

Emma said there might be - she would try. They are dividing all the vacant plots in half to deal with the waiting list, and she said she could divide this plot in half, and then maybe I could have the half I'm working at the moment, and she could threaten them with eviction for non-cultivation. It was all very vague, and left me hoping for something I'd given up hoping for - that one day that plot would be mine, and I wouldn't have to start all over again on another plot from scratch. When I told John, though, he said, "We've heard it all before though." And although Emma hasn't offered to do anything before, because she's relatively new in the job, and didn't really know about the situation till I told her about it in one of my innumerable emails a month or two ago, I find it hard to hope that she will find the time to sort out the situation. But she had noticed the state of the top half of the plot before I showed her it, so there is hope that it's registered with her and something may come of this meeting. I know what she's up against, though - not just the Salvation Army Enterprise Officer refusing to admit defeat, but other Salvationists wanting to turn it into raised beds (aaargh, not the dreaded raised beds! Lord preserve my allotment from raised beds!)

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