Scouts battle to save threatened premises
AWEST Lancashire Scout club with almost 80 years of history is under threat.
The Skelmersdale Methodist Scout Group, the first in the area and seventeenth in Ormskirk, has been told by Lancashire County Council that it may have to give up its leasehold on the land provided to them, to make way for an access road to new housing.
The club have used the building in Barnes Road, Skelmersdale, for the past 12 years but under new plans that building could be demolished.
The land has been used by the club since about 1972.
Club leaders met Lancashire County Council officers to discuss the plans, where it was decided a petition should be drawn up.
Scouts have been out in force obtaining signatures opposing the access road plans.
The club has said it is not against the housing development itself but believes the plans could be altered to allow access farther along Barnes Road, past Park Children’s Centre and save the building from being demolished.
Scout Leader Charlie Cavaghan, who has been with the club for about 25 years, met with Lancashire County Council to discuss the plans, where it was decided a petition should be drawn up. Scouts have been out in force obtaining signatures that oppose the road plans ever since.
The club have said they are not against the housing development itself but believe that plans could be altered to grant an access point further along Barnes Road, past Park Children’s Centre, which would prevent the building from being demolished.
Mr Cavaghan, 64, said moving from the site would be very disruptive.
He said: “The council have suggested a move to a fixed piece of land.
“However, we’d have to build a new premises on it, that could cost between £350400,000.
“It’s a good offer but it’s raising that kind of money.”
Just last week, TV star Bear Grylls, addressed the Conservatives at their annual party conference in Manchester, stating that the Scouts could not keep up with a growing demand to join without some financial assistance.
There are 55,000 children on a national waiting list to join the Scouts, proving that the club is still very popular.
Mr Cavaghan, added: “We’ve been involved in the community for almost 80 years, providing opportunities to a massive age range.
“It goes back to being a social problem. A lack of facilities for young people and disaffected young people with little opportunity. Scouts has been filling that gap nationally for years.”
The Skelmersdale Scout Group runs activities for about 60 children and young people.
Gary Jones, principal estates surveyor for the county council, said: “This building is owned by the county council. We agreed around 10 years ago that the scout group could use it, until we required it back for development purposes.
“The land has been identified for a development of new homes, as well as space for community allotments.
“Our initial work has shown the best access would be next to the junction with Whitburn, rather than bringing it past the front of the children’s centre.
“We’ve also volunteered to provide some land on this site to the scouts, although we wouldn’t be able to fund the building itself. This would enable the scout group to continue on a new site, near to their current one.”
Nearly 1,500 people have signed the petition so far, it can be found online at Change.org.