WAVERLEY Borough Council has come under renewed fire for failing to give Haslemere Town Council “a straight answer” on the future home of the Scouts.
The 1st Haslemere Scouts are one of a number of youth groups, including St John Ambulance, based at Wey Hill on a Waverley Borough owned site that is now allocated for 30 houses in the Local Plan.
Scouts group chairman Paul Buckler attended the town council’s planning committee last Thursday, when the Youth Campus site allocation was discussed. He appealed to the town council to press Waverley for urgent clarification to say if the lease would be renewed or the group would have to relocate.
A written statement by Mr Buckler was read out, reminding members the future of one of the oldest Scout groups in the country was at risk due to six years of uncertainty after Waverley decided not to renew the original long-term lease, which dates back to 1924.
He said: “To date Waverley have not offered alternative accommodation that is satisfactory for the Scouts.
“The alternatives would severely impact our ability to continue running a full scouting programme in Haslemere.
“In 2014, Waverley suggested building new accommodation for the scouts at the Youth Campus site however this did not materialise into an offer and has not been suggested by the council again.
“Without Waverley engaging in a constructive and timely negotiation it leaves the Scouts with very few alternatives to securing a future in Haslemere. ”
Town councillor Nikki Barton said: “The Scouts do an amazing job. Their volunteers help hundreds of young children. The Scouts are now having to spend money on legal fees, because Waverley won’t respond to them.
“They feel very let down. They are a key group, and I am very concerned.”
Fellow councillors shared her concern and voted to object to the site allocation if the youth groups were not satisfied with alternative accommodation provided.
Mayor David Round said: “I love the Scouts. I think Waverley should come clean. If they decided they need the entire site, they will have to negotiate with the Scouts.”
A Waverley spokesman said this week: “Maintaining community facilities and supporting local community groups is a priority for the council.
“Potential alternative sites have been discussed with the Scouts in the past, however current negotiations are in relation to their lease at the Youth Campus. A meeting has been arranged for September to discuss this further.”