Scout groups face closure thanks to council demands

March 18, 2011 3:35 PM

The Scouting Movement, founded in 1907, is one of the UK's most cherished organisations. I remember my time very fondly as a Scout. Songs around the camp fire; walking and climbing; learning how to tie knots. I'm sure I'm not the only reader who can recall days like these. Nationally, there are 7240 Scout groups, with approximately 110,000 adult helpers who give 37,600,000 hours per year to the community. When David Cameron talks about the 'Big Society', here are a group of people who have been doing it for years, giving children the opportunity to experience different aspects of life with their peers, rather than sat indoors playing computer games.

Unfortunately, they are seen as an easy target by some councils. In a recent press release, the Scout Association announced that Scout groups are being subjected to enormous rent increases by local authorities. Here are some examples.

  • Banstead District Scout Group has received a request for an increase in ground rent from the current £135 per annum to £10,500 from Reigate and Banstead District Council.

  • Barwick in Elmet Scout Group in Wetherby District (part of Leeds City Council) have used the local school for Scouting purposes for free for over 25 years. The group expect that rate to rise to £100 per week in 2011, increasing their costs by £5000 per year.

  • Leeds City Council has increased the fees for renting a building to the 12th Morley Scout Group and the group now needs to find an additional £6480 per year.  They anticipate that this will cost each child an additional £108 per year.  They anticipate that the group will fold by the end of the spring.


As a result of these increases, many Scout groups face closure. You would think councils would realise this, and when you take a look at our Town Hall Rich List published this week, you can also see those councils in the examples above have clearly got their priorities wrong.

  • In 2009/10, Reigate and Banstead District Council awarded its chief executive an 8.3% pay rise.

  • Leeds City Council awarded its Director of Children's Services a 9.9% pay rise; its Director of Resources a 4.9% pay rise; and its Director of City Development a 4.8% pay rise.


In our manifesto, we called for the top 10% of earners in the public sector to take a 5% pay cut. Instead, too many big earners have seen their pay go up, and at the same time they tell voluntary organisations - like the Scouts - they have to tighten their belts and pay more. I don't have a crystal ball, but I'd bet my house that the public will side with the Scouts rather than council chiefs. Hopefully, these councils will get the message and realise what a brilliant job many voluntary organisations do in this country, and stop seeing them as an easy target.The Scouting Movement, founded in 1907, is one of the UK's most cherished organisations. I remember my time very fondly as a Scout. Songs around the camp fire; walking and climbing; learning how to tie knots. I'm sure I'm not the only reader who can recall days like these. Nationally, there are 7240 Scout groups, with approximately 110,000 adult helpers who give 37,600,000 hours per year to the community. When David Cameron talks about the 'Big Society', here are a group of people who have been doing it for years, giving children the opportunity to experience different aspects of life with their peers, rather than sat indoors playing computer games.

Unfortunately, they are seen as an easy target by some councils. In a recent press release, the Scout Association announced that Scout groups are being subjected to enormous rent increases by local authorities. Here are some examples.

  • Banstead District Scout Group has received a request for an increase in ground rent from the current £135 per annum to £10,500 from Reigate and Banstead District Council.

  • Barwick in Elmet Scout Group in Wetherby District (part of Leeds City Council) have used the local school for Scouting purposes for free for over 25 years. The group expect that rate to rise to £100 per week in 2011, increasing their costs by £5000 per year.

  • Leeds City Council has increased the fees for renting a building to the 12th Morley Scout Group and the group now needs to find an additional £6480 per year.  They anticipate that this will cost each child an additional £108 per year.  They anticipate that the group will fold by the end of the spring.


As a result of these increases, many Scout groups face closure. You would think councils would realise this, and when you take a look at our Town Hall Rich List published this week, you can also see those councils in the examples above have clearly got their priorities wrong.

  • In 2009/10, Reigate and Banstead District Council awarded its chief executive an 8.3% pay rise.

  • Leeds City Council awarded its Director of Children's Services a 9.9% pay rise; its Director of Resources a 4.9% pay rise; and its Director of City Development a 4.8% pay rise.


In our manifesto, we called for the top 10% of earners in the public sector to take a 5% pay cut. Instead, too many big earners have seen their pay go up, and at the same time they tell voluntary organisations - like the Scouts - they have to tighten their belts and pay more. I don't have a crystal ball, but I'd bet my house that the public will side with the Scouts rather than council chiefs. Hopefully, these councils will get the message and realise what a brilliant job many voluntary organisations do in this country, and stop seeing them as an easy target.

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