Allotment fee increases will be phased in following uproar from gardeners.

Braintree Council came under fire after originally proposing a hike of 54 per cent from April 1 for new tenants and August for existing tenants.

Councillor Wendy Schmitt said: “Following responses from a number of allotment holders and discussions at both Overview and Scrutiny Committee and Cabinet meetings it is clear that whilst a rise in fees for allotments is acceptable, it would be more affordable if done over a period of time.

“Having consulted on this matter, we have listened to people’s views and price increases will be fixed and phased in, giving allotment holders more certainty on cost over the next three years.

“The rise in fees is not about creating income as the allotment service will continue to operate at a loss, but with significant investment in excess of £150k made, the allotments have been improved, and the proposed fees will reflect this, whilst also providing good value for money.

It has therefore been recommended that the increase is fixed and phased over three years, with the charge per square meter rising from 26p to 30p in Year 1 (2014/15), 35p in Year 2 and 40p in year 3.

"The revised prices for year 1 will take affect from April 1 2014 for new tenants and for existing tenants from September 1 2014.”

This will be now be discussed at a full council meeting on the February 17 before any final decision is taken.