Since the dawn of time, Edinburgh’s allotment holders have enjoyed the opportunity to pay these subscriptions directly to the Council along with their annual rent. The money eventually makes its way to FEDAGA and the local associations. This makes huge good sense as the hassle is minimised and a healthy cash flow is maintained without some poor soul having to spend their days going around the site chasing up payments.
Of course, in common with many features of the Modern Era, this cannot be allowed to stand. You must have a choice: pay your subscriptions, or don’t pay your subscriptions! This way lies progress.
If a bureaucracy cannot support within its corridors a phalanx of financial advisors armed with a sheaf of ludicrous suggestions designed to upturn apple carts and provoke unrest, then surely it cannot be allowed to continue.
So, last year the Council advised FEDAGA that it would be providing allotment holders with the opportunity of not paying their subscriptions, thereby kicking democratically accountable representative activity where it hurts - in the purse. Result: Bean Counters 1 - Downtrodden Proletariat 0.
Your Secretary has written an epistle which was intended to go out with the invoices to remind everyone what a great deal they are getting by remaining as members. Unfortunately this will not be possible - as the invoice service has been privatised and cannot be accessed by the Council. It will be e-mailed out instead to that two thirds of the community that the Council has details of.
The other side of the coin regarding collection of subscriptions is communication. As FEDAGA is reliant on the Council for collection of subscriptions it does not know who it’s members are, or have the means of contacting them apart from the Site Noticeboard.
Data Protection prohibits the Council sharing such details without express permission, which is fair enough. FEDAGA has created a database of nearly half of the total membership through voluntary registration. That’s how the Newsletter gets into your inbox.
However, this is a handicap that has been variously described as “ludicrous” and “ridiculous” amongst other things. But bear in mind that the sums of money are scant and these organisations are entirely voluntary. The number of volunteers is small. In fact, on many sites the number of volunteers is around zero. It is not realistic to expect these people (assuming they exist) to spend their time administering membership records and chasing up payments.
Members get a great deal from the existence of FEDAGA and their Site Associations. Trading Schemes alone provide for the return of the entry fee in spades. Then there’s the fun of the Allotment Show and the thrills of the Heritage Potato Trials. Having a local network means that problems can be addressed quickly. Liaison with Council and Government is possible via FEDAGA and SAGS. Site closures have been reversed and protection and expansion is now in prospect through legislation that your representatives have had a say on.
If you’re reading this and haven’t signed up for the Newsletter, please do so now. Also, consider getting more actively involved in supporting your Site Association. And please make sure you continue to pay your subs.
“The Ancient Briton” (in a personal capacity).