Scouts bat­tle to save threat­ened premises

Ormskirk Advertiser - - Front Page - BY KERRI FITZ­PATRICK kerri.fitz­patrick@trin­i­tymir­ror.com @@Visiter

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.

The Scouts premises in Barnes Road could be de­mol­ished; Bear Grylls, inset, ad­dress­ing the Tory party con­fer­ence

Lan­cashire Po­lice want to iden­tify the man in this CCTV footage

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