Complaints and disputes involving allotment societies
Complaints and disputes involving allotment societies should be taken up with the society concerned.
The Barnet Allotment Federation’s job is to provide advice, support and services to its members – Barnet’s allotment societies. It is for the societies themselves to deal with issues involving their own allotment holders, neighbours or other third parties. The Federation has no authority to become involved in a society’s internal business unless the society’s committee acting collectively specifically asks it to do so. The Federation therefore cannot intervene in complaints or disputes arising from the running of individual allotment sites and societies. Each society is responsible for managing its site and should have procedures in place to deal with any complaints and disputes that may arise, whether these involve its own tenants or third parties such as neighbours.
Before the societies took over the management of their sites from Barnet Council, the Federation entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the council that is supported by detailed guidance to societies on the handling of complaints. The MoU was signed off in April 2013.
The guidance provides that:
- all societies should set and follow their own complaints procedures;
- these procedures should incorporate both an initial investigation process (stage 1) and an avenue by which the complainant can seek a review process by an independent person (stage 2) if the complainant is dissatisfied with the outcome of stage 1; and
- the Barnet Council’s Corporate Complaints process (stage 3) can be accessed when a complaint has not been resolved locally following a stage 2 review request.
It is therefore important that any complaint or dispute is first taken up with the society concerned – contact details for Barnet’s allotment sites can be found here.
Where complaints or disputes remain unresolved locally the Federation may, at the request of a society’s officers, arrange for an independent review of the complaint or dispute to be carried out. This service is available only to the Federation’s member societies – it cannot be accessed directly by individual complainants.
At the request of a society, the Federation provides the services of an independent person to undertake the stage 2 review of action taken and/or decisions made by the society in relation to a complaint or dispute. The review service functions solely to provide an independent, personal opinion on an unresolved complaint or dispute. The service is intended to assist the parties involved to come to a mutually acceptable conclusion and the final decision about what to do remains with the allotment society. This review function does not prevent a complainant from accessing the Council’s Corporate Complaints process following a stage 2 review request where a complaint or dispute cannot be resolved locally.