Claim group is attempting to evict the disabled from a building the Council own
Wandsworth Council have reacted angrily to a statement from Putney Sea Scouts about their plans for the Scout Hut on Barn Elms.
They accused the group's leaders of failing to engage meaningfully with their attempts to secure a compromise on the issue and claim that it is a case of them wanting to evict a disabled group from a building owned by the Council rather than the Council wanting to kick the scout out of their own hut.
A Council spokesman told PutneySW15.com, "Local people should not be under any illusion - the only reason this situation has arisen is because the scouts chose to evict the disabled people we support from a building that we actually own."
5th Putney Sea Scouts
Wandsworth Council stands by belief that both the Sea Scouts and the ‘Better Days Project’ can use the 'hut' on the embankment.
In answer to a statement today from the Sea Scouts in which they accused Wandsworth of 'hitting a new low', the Council's spokesman added,"This is a disappointing response to our efforts to reach an amicable agreement to ensure that both the scouts and our group of vulnerable disabled people can continue to share this riverside facility as they have successfully done for many years.
"We have repeatedly and publicly said that we want the scouts to remain. If an agreement can be reached we would like them to continue to use the building for decades to come. This is the outcome we have been striving to achieve and why it is so disappointing that while these negotiations are still ongoing they have chosen to issue this wholly misleading press release which does not reflect the full facts behind this issue."
The Putney Sea Scouts, which were formed in 1937, claim their existence is under threat due Wandsworth Council's plans to take control of the Scout Hut, to change the terms on which the Sea Scouts have occupied the land, and to insist that they share their facilities with Wandsworth’s own ‘Better Days Project’ which is a service for adults with learning difficulties.
Chris Hayes, Scouter in Charge said today: “5th Putney Sea Scouts are the custodians of a safe and happy space that has been enjoyed by generations of children. We have a responsibility to them and to future generations of children to safeguard this important site.”
Formed in 1937, the 5th Putney Sea Scouts were first offered a lease to the Barn Elms embankment site in 1961, by the London County Council. A 21 year lease between the Greater London Council and the Sea Scouts for the land was signed in 1973, at a rent of £20 pa. The current lease commenced in 1994 by which time the land was owned by Hammersmith & Fulham Council. The rent was a fixed £500 pa. The land is today owned by Wandsworth Council, although it sits within the borough of Richmond upon Thames. The rent for the land has been paid to Wandsworth Council continuously, since their ownership commenced.
Wandsworth Borough Council has issued a notice to the Sea Scouts that the lease will not be renewed on terms similar to those that have existed previously. Solicitors for the Council, Sharpe Pritchard, in their letter of 12th January 2015, say “The Council requires possession of the premises so that it can be occupied by its Learning Disability Day Service.” The existing lease will be terminated on 17 July 2015.
The Sea Scouts have informed Council representatives that they are likely to reject the Draft heads of Terms.
The Council's spokesman said, "If the group's leaders are willing to meaningfully engage with us, we will continue to try and find a way forward and reach a compromise acceptable to both sides, but their latest communique shows just what a difficult task appears to lie ahead."
March 13, 2015