11:00AM, Thursday 14 October 2021
L-R Sarah Anderson, Asst Beaver Leader, John Holton Group Scout Leader, Alison Holton, Asst Group Scout Leader of 9th Maidenhead (URC) Scout Group
A pair of scout groups based in Holmanleaze have said they are yet to hear from the council about proposals to relocate them to a new facility.
A cabinet report, which was withdrawn during a meeting at the end of September, recommended the relocation of six community facilities at Holmanleaze to a new purpose-built facility on Blackamoor Lane.
Last week, the Advertiser reported one of the facilities, the Ivy Leaf Club, had not yet been contacted about the proposals.
Maidenhead Mosque has since responded to the news regarding the future of the site.
The Advertiser has also spoken to two scout groups based in Holmanleaze, who have echoed concerns about the lack of communication from the council.
John Holton, group scout leader for 9th Maidenhead Scout Group, said the cabinet paper was, to a ‘large extent’, news to the group.
“I am extremely concerned to read of these plans as though they were a fait accompli, which as far as we are concerned is currently very far from the truth,” said Mr Holton.
He said that the group had previously met with RBWM Property Company and had been ‘assured’ there were no plans for a permanent move, adding that ‘as the location we were in was set aside for community use it could not be redeveloped for housing’.
He added: “To be fair to RBWM they pointed out that part of their remit was to ensure that the properties they had were in a condition to be effective and adequate for the proposed redevelopments in the area, in essence, effectively future-proofing them.
“From reading the proposal, it would seem that the borough have failed to grasp the concept that the community groups it mentions (including ourselves) are all individual entities operating independently of each other whilst trying to provide some of the youth provision that is sadly otherwise lacking in the borough.
“Whilst it might be a nice idea to lump them all together in one building it would need to be a very large building for them all to continue to operate as they currently do.”
Andrew Paw, chairman of 19th Maidenhead Scout Group expressed similar concerns, and said: “The suggestion of one facility to house the diverse and active groups, providing extra-curricular activities to many children in RBWM, currently housed at Holmanleaze, has never been discussed with this group.
“It is disappointing, given we hoped for open and productive discussions with the council, to find out the proposal in this manner.
“Given that such a proposal has not been discussed with ourselves, and we presume other leaseholders, we do not understand how it can be recommended as a suitable alternative.
“We certainly struggle to understand how it is envisaged the groups who meet on many evenings would all be accommodated in one facility, or how it is envisaged we could all be joint leaseholders given the implications for insurance and complying with our own organisation’s policies, including security and health and safety.”
A spokesperson for the council said that ‘no decisions have been made’ and said the council is ‘open’ to discussions with any of the leaseholders seeking reassurance.
They added: “The report’s purpose is to provide a formal mandate to have these detailed discussions around the proposals and the clubs’ future requirements.
“A number of options are suggested in the report which will be considered and reviewed by the relevant overview and scrutiny panel to prepare recommendations to come back to cabinet for further discussion.
“Its focus is on the delivery of a better, purpose-built facility for community groups in the borough, along with the potential for extra housing, including much-needed affordable housing and the provision of additional community facilities.”
Speaking to the Advertiser, the leader of the council, Andrew Johnson, said: “I know it has been difficult during COVID and the various lockdowns to meet with some of these groups and I am aware tentative discussions have taken place with some of these groups.
“Until we have something formalised that gives us a mandate to have these discussions I’ve been quite loathed to get into detailed negotiations because people could quite rightly say if you’re having these discussions where’s your approval to do it?
“Until we have a paper that gives us the agreement to have these discussions it’s a bit chicken and egg at the moment.”
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