A MYSTERY individual believed to be impersonating a borough council officer is spreading lies about allotments in South Swindon, parish councillors have said.

The person is understood to have spoken to allotment holders at various sites, saying that new owners South Swindon Parish Council plan to sell off the allotments.

The parish council took over ownership of 14 allotment sites from the borough council earlier this year.

Chris Watts, chair of the parish council, dismissed the claims as “absolute rubbish”.

He told a meeting of its leisure and amenities committee on Tuesday: “Somebody is going round telling the allotment holders that the reason we wanted to take on the allotments was because we want to sell the land off.

“We can’t sell the land off. For one thing there are all sorts of rules preventing it. Secondly, we’ve looked at putting aside a sizeable part of our budget to improve the allotments and get them back up to scratch where the investment has let them go the wrong way.”

Meeting at the Broadgreen Community Centre, councillors heard that their colleagues had recently attended a meeting of allotment holders.

They gardeners were angry about proposed changes that would see the yearly cost of a plot for someone living outside the parish jump from £61.20 to £92.

The yearly cost for a plot for someone living in the parish is predicted to fall to £46 when the changes come into force next summer.

Neil Hopkins, chairman of the leisure and amenities committee, said: “The big issue for them was the differentiation in the charges between people living inside the parish and those residing outside the parish.

The councillor had tried to reassure allotment holders that the matter would be further discussed by a “working party”.

“We made it very clear we had a commitment to allotments as an asset,” Coun Hopkins added.

Coun Watts said: “There seems to be confusion that what they are going to be paying is double what they’re paying now. It’s not. It will be double the reduced rate.

“Even though you’re paying double the rate of somebody who live in the parish, it’s still cheaper than most allotments outside the parish.”

He proposed to write to allotment holders, clearly setting out the costings for the allotments – as well as the investments that the council planned to make.

Councillor John Firman wanted that letter to warn people of the council officer pretender.

He asked: “Can I also suggest that that letter says we understand there is somebody going round purporting to be a council officer and if an allotment holder meets that person they should ask for their ID?

“I think it’s quite serious if there are people doing that.

“I think people need to be aware.”

Swindon Borough Council said that they were not aware of the mystery individual accused of making the claims about the parish council’s allotments policy.