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Childminder banned from taking children to rented allotment plot in Stoke Poges

A childminder is locked in a dispute with Stoke Poges Parish Council over whether she can use her rented allotment while looking after children.

Hannah Lovelock, 43, is one of 55 plotholders at the parish council-run gardening site in Duffield Lane.

After the first national lockdown last year, the Stoke Poges resident started taking three of the children she looks after to her plot to learn about growing vegetables.

But the mother-of-four has now said the parish council has banned her from visiting the site while she is childminding due to the activity being classified as ‘business use’.

Mrs Lovelock told the Express the decision has deprived the young children of a ‘massive opportunity’ to learn about the great outdoors and enrich their mental health.

She said: “As a childminder we have been so heavily restricted on what we can do.

“We have to provide a service for these parents desperate to go back to work and most of mine are NHS key workers.

“We haven’t been allowed to go parks or anywhere. This opportunity to go to the allotments would have been ideal.”

Stoke Poges Parish Council said the cost of each allotment plot is heavily subsidised by council tax and therefore any kind of business use on the site is banned.

It added that if it allowed Mrs Lovelock to use the venue while childminding, a safeguarding officer would have to be introduced at a cost to the council.

Spending money in support of a private business would be unlawful, the council added.

Mrs Lovelock told the Express she is covered by her own public liability insurance and had received no complaints from fellow plotholders.

She added: “Basically what it comes down to is in 1922 the Allotment Act was created which said you cannot use it for commercial purposes which I completely agree with.

“But that was nearly 100 years ago when childminders didn’t even exist. It’s down to the common sense of each parish council, it’s entirely up to them what they deem as business use.”

A statement from Stoke Poges Parish Council said: “The Parish Council prides itself on listening to villagers’ views and has been in discussions on this matter for seven months.

“All legal and practical reasons for reaching the decision have been explained in detail to all parties.

“We do not believe in significantly raising the council tax of every resident of Stoke Poges in order to facilitate an extra benefit offered by one local business.

“Decisions are made ensuring your council tax is spent wisely and used in the best interest of the whole village, not individual residents.”

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  • Greenerworld

    16:04, 26 March 2021

    This council sound like a bunch of clowns. How ridiculous to say a “significant increase “ in council tax! They have got it wrong regarding the safeguarding laws. Councils have a pot of money to decide how to allocate. If most residents are supportive then the council should be too. Anyway it it came to it I for one would pay the extra pound or two in council tax to see children outside learning about nature instead of sitting on their iPads.

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    • Stranger

      17:33, 26 March 2021

      Don't force the taxpayer to pay for other people's kids. If you really cared about this issue then you would deal with the overpopulation problem head on. Come to Slough and see for yourself what those kids' futures look like. The allotments will be gone soon, anyway. To fund her own allotment, all that woman needs is about £10K. YOU fund it and gift it to her, if it means that much to you. If not, then get her to kickstart a business to capitalise the purchase of a suitable plot. You would pay a pound or two? Then do it through Kickstarter. You can actually BUY A PLOT OF LAND FOR THOSE KIDS, i.e. commit to putting in £2 if the funding goal is achieved. That's unless you just want to make a political point.

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      • Greenerworld

        18:47, 26 March 2021

        Mate what I’m saying is the safeguarding and insurance issues are lies and red herrings. Take it from someone who used to be a councillor.

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        • Stranger

          20:12, 26 March 2021

          I believe you, but nevertheless the Council's legal grounds for refusing a special dispensation in her case are faultless. Note that she is in the perfectly legitimate and reasonable business of childcare, but she has 4 children of her own. She says she wanted to take 3 children who were not her own to the allotment. It isn't clear if she could use her own garden for that purpose, or whether she even has one. In any case, some more effort and risk appetite should be demanded of people who decide to set up in business. It doesn't feel right that someone should be allowed to use Council property commercially yet have nothing more invested in a profitable business than a smartphone. If she bought her own land, it would create useful economic activity.

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  • Stranger

    06:16, 26 March 2021

    If you really change things for the better, teach those children about the consequences of overpopulation, so they don't make the same mistakes as their parents. Too many people means you have to take a whole bunch of kids to a tiny plot of land which will be built over by flats within 10 years, to house a deeply depressed generation of "doomers" living like rats in a cage. Teach them that once upon a time people had gardens, but some people had children before they had gardens or houses, because they thought that's just what you do. If you don't have the courage to make them think about this you're only sowing the seeds of future suffering.

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