Colney Heath Parish Council and Scouts locked in dispute over future of Roestock Park hut
- Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO
The Scouts have warned they will leave Colney Heath if the parish council jacks up the rent on the group’s hut.
The Roestock Park site where the Scout hut is situated is owned by St Albans council, who lease it to Colney Heath Parish Council (CHPC), who then lease it to the Scouts.
St Albans council charges a small amount of rent to CHPC, who previously charged the Scouts a similar amount, but has suggested charging them more to use the site.
The Scouts’ district commissioner Annette Payne said: “The offers are commercial rates which we cannot sustain.
“The Scouts built the hut themselves and feel quite aggrieved the parish council are assuming it is theirs and more than that, are wanting to lease it at a value they know is absolutely outside our financial means.”
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The hut was built in 1976 by volunteers, who raised money by collecting waste, holding Christmas fayres and organising dinner dances.
A rent of £15,000 a year has been rumoured, though CHPC has denied it will be that much, instead saying it wants the Scouts to insure themselves and make the hut more accessible for disabled people, which would include installing a disabled toilet.
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According to Dr Payne, the choice CHPC has presented to the council is to either pay £15,000 per year, or pay £12.50 an hour for each hour the Scouts use the hut’s main hall, kitchen, toilets and a small amount of storage. Use of the loft and garage, where the Scouts keep their camping equipment, would incur an extra fee.
Dr Payne said: “The Scouts are at the heart of that community, providing a centre for activities not just for Scouts, but their families as well. It is a community hub.
“[Disabled toilets] are something we would look to do if we were assured of tenancy and able to afford it.
“If the CHPC proposals go through, there will no longer be Scouting in Colney Heath village, depriving girls and boys with the skills for life and adventure Scouting provides, and the community of an invaluable asset.”
The Scouts are offering to pay £100 per year on a 20-year lease, with full responsibility for maintenance and bills, or to lease it directly from St Albans council.
CHPC said: “The parish council are keen to resolve the current situation, the negotiations will continue with the matter being discussed at the September and October meetings.”