A LEGAL hitch has held up the handover of hundreds of allotments to town councils in the former Wansbeck area.
The land was believed to have been passed to Northumberland County Council when Wansbeck Council was wound up three years ago.
Now it has emerged that the plots were signed over to Wansbeck Homes – the district’s housing management arm – and then to its successor Bernicia Homes along with 5,000 council houses.
Newbiggin Allotment Association secretary Michael Boon said: “It’s a bombshell.
“The town and county councils have spent money putting fencing up, but basically you could say they are doing work on something they don’t own.”
Allotments are a responsibility of parish and town councils, so the county has been talking with them about ending its caretaker role and passing them the land.
Many are protected by law and so could not be built on or devoted to any other use.
County spokeswoman Sarah Wilson said the hand over to local councils was not at risk.
“Some were transferred to Wansbeck Homes with Bernicia and we are getting them transferred back so we can transfer them on to the town councils.”
Allotments on land owned by Rio Tinto Alcan will be protected after the closure of the Lynemouth smelter by transferring the lease to the town council.
Ashington has nine sites, East Bedlington has two sites, North Bedlington four, West Bedlington two and Newbiggin two.