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  • New housing development could see Skelmersdale group thrown out of their base

    Henry James

    THE 1st Skelmersdale Scout Group face losing their base if new housing proposals being put forward by Lancashire County Council for Barnes Road in Old Skem are agreed.

    Leaders from the organisation have drawn up a petition calling on Lancashire County Council to move the access road to the development, and are now appealing to residents to sign the petition.

    The group are hoping to celebrate their 80th anniversary next year and have become a ‘vital part’ of the community in that time.

    Acting group Scout leader, Charlie Cavaghan believes the development would be for more than the 70 homes proposed.

    He said: “We face the very real prospect of our building being demolished to allow development to take place on Barnes Road. We are not against the development and we are grateful to Lancashire County Council for the use of the land in the intervening years.

    “But we are of the opinion that access to the site could be granted further along Barnes Road, past the Park Road Children’s Centre and avoiding our building being demolished.

    “We therefore call on Lancashire County Council to re-consider its planned access road for the site and to seriously consider the option of taking the access road further down Barnes Road. This would still allow access to the site and save our building.”

    The scouts have approached County Councillor for Skelmersdale West, Julie Gibson, for her help. She said: “The access point for the development is currently being proposed to go through where the scout hut is situated, meaning the hut would have to be demolished.

    “There is the possibility of access further down Barnes Road which would go past the scout hut. Charlie Cavaghan and I have met with county officers to see if this is possible. While officers have been sympathetic to our plight, they wish to keep the current proposed access route.

    “We are not opposed to the development, and we appreciate the need for more housing, but we would just like the county to revisit their plans and feel the alternative entrance could be used. I hope to present the petition to the Cabinet Member for Planning.”

    The base is used three times a week, the beavers are there on a Tuesday, the cubs and explorers on a Wednesday, and on a Friday the scouts meet. The group has about 57 cubs, scouts and explorers and eight or nine leaders.

    Charlie added: “If the hall is demolished, I am not sure where we could go. There is also the problem of where we could store all our equipment.

    “We plan to distribute the petition to parents and leaders of the group and community centres and other places where the public congregate.”

    Gary Jones, principal estates surveyor for Lancashire County Council, responded: “This building is owned by the county council. We agreed around ten years ago that the scout group could use it, until we required it back for development purposes.

    “The land has been identified for a development of new homes, as well as space for community allotments.

    “Our initial work has shown that the best access would be next to the junction with Whitburn, rather than bringing it past the front of the Children's Centre.

    “We've also volunteered to provide some land on this site to the scouts, although we wouldn’t be able to fund the building itself. This would enable the scout group to continue on a new site, near to their current one.”

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