Andover town councillors have voted through spending reserves to bring its stock of allotment up to “a good, general standard.”

Councillors discussed a range of issues regarding the sites at the allotments committee’s meeting on Monday, December 14, including the replacement of fences and tree surgery.

The committee also approved plans to request £50,000 from the council’s budget for the coming year for the purpose of buying new allotments in the north of Andover.

While discussing the earmarked reserves, discussion began over the costs of replacing fencing at all seven allotment sites owned by the town council, with £70,000 currently earmarked to meet these costs.

Councillor David Coole said that it was “relatively easy to replace sections of fencing and posts,” and urged the committee to be “selective” in spending its money.

He said: “Complete replacement of fencing is not necessary in the financial climate we find ourselves in and we need to be selective in how we spend our money. If we can reduce this bill down to £10-15,000 for all our allotment sites, and use the other money for something like a new allotment site, I’m sure the public would really appreciate that.”

Cllr Barbara Long agreed, saying that replacing fencing around a whole site is “probably not cost effective unless it is in really bad repair.”

She said that she wanted to inspect the Old Winton Road allotment’s fencing, where a replacement is set to cost over £34,000.

Cllr Robin Hughes, however, said that the reserve was needed.

“I’m certainly not proposing that every site needs a brand new fence straight away,” he said. “That would be ridiculous, but then again, reactive fixing of the fences is just a drain on everybody.”

He continued: “What you need to do is bring all the sites up to a good general standard, a standard better than we ever received them in from TVBC. Therefore those reserves are needed to do that”.

Proposals to add to the earmarked reserves were also approved, with Cllr Luigi Gregori, chair of the committee, proposing a resolution for £50,000 from the town council’s budget for the coming year to be reserved for the purchase of additional allotments.

A motion to put £50,000 of underspend funds towards the purchase of new allotments had previously been voted against by the Policy and resources Committee in October.

This was subsequently voted on, with only Cllr David Treadwell voting against. This proposal will now be discussed at a future meeting of the full town council.

When the earmarked reserves were voted on as a whole, Cllr Treadwell again voted against, as well as Cllr Coole.

The meeting also saw councillors adopt a draft maintenance strategy for the allotments, as a way of having “a consultation document” for routine work across the site, as well as aiding in the identification of “spend to save” projects.