CUTTING allotments in half is one of the ways Warrington Borough Council is hoping to bring down the waiting list for green spaces.

A task group which was formed to tackle the issue of long waiting lists for allotments reported back from its first phase of work.

Clr David Keane, executive board member for environment and public protection, said the panel’s work had helped to reduce the list from a high point of 425 in July last year down to 382.

He said: “This has been quite an interesting journey so far. It’s taken us as far as Blackpool but we did see some best practice there.

“We have been looking at demand for allotments and quality of allotments.

We have been able to reduce the waiting list in a minimal way so far.”

In the last three years there were 224 new requests for allotment spaces but only 92 allotments came up for grabs during that time.

So one of the ideas to help cut down waiting time is to halve the size of the allotments from 250 sqm to 125 sqm - which has already helped to cut down the list.

And funding of £206,000 has been approved from the council for improvements on the six current allotment sites which will see composting toilets installed.

The funding will also cover improvements to paths, water pressure, storage and some security fencing.

“These will be some real quality differences that will come through on the sites and we will have made the best of what we have got,” added Clr Keane.

Council leader Clr Terry O’Neill added: “This is a very popular past time in Warrington.

“We are oversubscribed with people wanting to get allotments. It’s important because gardening is a form of physical exercise, it’s growing your own food and getting people healthy.”

The task force will now set out to see if it can increase the number of allotments across Warrington - either through voluntary splitting of existing allotments or new sites that may not be owned by the council itself.