SKIPTON Town Council should not be aiming to make a profit from its allotments sites and instead, they are crying out for investment, a former mayor has said.

Cllr Peter Madeley told a meeting of the council last week that he believed that the authority had not been fair to its allotment tenants in the past, and that the service should not be be seen as a way of making money.

The council is currently working on a 'future vision' for its allotments. It has two large sites, at Middletown and at Broughton Road, and a smaller one at Burnside Chapel. The annual cost of a half plot is currently £48 and £96 for a full plot - although the council has discovered discrepancies in measurements have resulted in some people paying the same amount as another tenant with a plot almost twice the size.

Its allotments officer is now measuring each plot, to make sure everyone is paying the right amount, and is planning a raft of improvements, as well as a community clean-up day, describing the sites as 'towns that need constant investment in order to improve'.

Cllr Madeley told last week's Public Services Committee that the council should be aiming to break even on allotments and not to make money from them.

"We don't want to be putting prices up, we want to make rents fair for everyone. We are not here to make a profit. If we have £5 left at the end of the year, we should adjust the rent accordingly. I don't think the tenants have been getting value for money over the years," he said.

Allotments manager Summer Lawson said any money left over at the end of the year would be put back into the sites, adding money did need to be spent to improve the sites for tenants.

Rents were not being increased she said, plots were being properly measured and rents would be adjusted. There were also some areas of the Middletown site which were impossible to use because of the state of the paths.

"It means the allotments are not practical to use in some areas. It's all right saying we can't make a profit, but it's like a town, every thing constantly needs improving," she told the meeting.

Cllr Madeley added: " We've a duty to make the best of what we've got. There has been very little investment, there needs to be a lot of money spending to make it what it ought to be. If the council needs to put in a lump sum, then that is what we will have to do."