Colney Heath Scout Group and Colney Heath Parish Council meet to decide fate of Roestock Park hut

PUBLISHED: 17:30 19 December 2019 | UPDATED: 10:19 02 January 2020

Colney Heath scout hut. Picture: Danny Loo

Colney Heath scout hut. Picture: Danny Loo

Archant

A crunch meeting to decide the future of a Colney Heath scout hut is due to take place tonight.

Cllr Chris Brazier of Colney Heath Parish Council and David Gough and Patricia Hall of the Colney Heath Scout Group are to sit down for an informal meeting to decide the fate of the Roestock Park Scout hut.

A row broke out over the use of the hut three years ago, in which the two sides clashed over the conditions of the lease.

The protracted legal dispute between the Scouts and CHPC has recently grown increasingly confusing with radically contradictory claims being made from both organisations and tensions running high for all those involved.

The CHPC and the Scouts have been trying to come to a satisfactory agreement, but the issue flared up again this week after the CHPC informed the Scouts that since there was now no valid lease on the hut the parish council would have to change the locks on the property and limit their access to it.

Scout Group District Commissioner Annette Payne said: "We have a waiting list for joining scout groups so losing one will be devastating."

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CHPC have expressed their desire to license the hut back to the Scouts for a peppercorn rent and restricted access to the hut. The Scouts say they are unwilling to accept restricted access to the hut as they don't meet on the days the CHPC is proposing and they want access to their stored equipment at all times.

The Scouts claim CHPC tried to increase the rent on the land to as much as £15,000 per annum. While that appears to have been true in 2016, newer representatives on the parish council denied that was the council's intention today.

The conflict appears to stem from the issue of liability issuance. Representatives from CHPC claim that the hut is in an advanced state of disrepair and has an issue with asbestos. If those using the property do not have a valid lease, the insurance is void.

A statement from CHPC explained: "The parish council is protecting the interests of both the Scout group and the parish council from being in breach of the legal process. This must be followed so that the insurance on the building and the public liability insurance remain valid for all users of the building who are predominantly children. The council's main concern is the safety of them and all users."

But representatives from the Scouts say they are reluctant to spare the expense to improve the building whilst the question of the lease hangs in the balance.

The Scouts who raised the funds to build the hut in the 1970s believe they have a legal and moral right to exclusive use of the hut which they have maintained for the entire period of its existence.

The Scouts do not own the land on which the hut was built. It is owned by St Albans City and District Council which leases it to CHPC, who in turn sublet the land to the Scouts.

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