An open letter from Cllr Jim Maddan
I’m writing to update local residents on the efforts being made to reach a new property sharing agreement between our day care service for severely disabled residents and the Barn Elms scout group.
Until quite recently both groups shared the pre-fab building on council owned land just past Beverley Brook on the Putney Towpath. As many residents will know, this is an exceptionally beautiful, peaceful location and a wonderful environment for young and disabled people.
The site was shared for around four years during which time the vulnerable people coming here blossomed. Staff recorded a 75 per cent drop in incidents of challenging behaviour which meant much more time could be spent on constructive, fulfilling activities which greatly improve their quality of life.
Just over a year ago the council approached the Putney scouts committee to suggest the landlord/tenant arrangement was switched so the council would take on full responsibility for the building. This was on the basis of the scouts being provided with a secure licence guaranteeing their continued use of the building. This offer was turned down and the scout committee immediately served notice that the shared use agreement was being brought to an end.
Attempts were made to resolve this situation but none were successful. The result is that users of our day service have been relocated to Culvert Road, Battersea and many of the challenging behaviours have returned to the group. For these individuals, and for their carers, day-to-day life is now much more difficult without access to Barn Elms.
Having exhausted all other options, the council, as the owner of the site, has now taken the decision to serve notice to end the scout group’s lease in six months time. At the same time we have assured the group they will be offered a new licence to continue to use the building for their full programme of activities so there will be no need to move. To be absolutely clear, we want the scouts to stay and to see both groups benefit from this wonderful riverside location long into the future.
It is of course deeply regrettable that an agreement could not be reached through a simple, friendly dialogue. Both the day service and the scouts are treasured institutions which play vital roles in our community. I understand that many local people will be anxious to see this situation resolved as soon as possible and I want to reassure residents that we are committed to reaching an agreement that ensures both parties can use this site for decades to come.
Wandsworth Council executive member for adult social services and health
January 16, 2015