Northamptonshire Scouts groups face venue cuts if subsidy pulled

Northamptonshire County Council could stop paying a subsidy to Scout groups for the use of venues.

Tuesday, 15th January 2019, 2:20 pm
Updated Wednesday, 16th January 2019, 6:37 pm

After an announcement last week by the local authority, Scout leaders have been told that the community use of schools budget, which subsidises the private use of school halls, could be cut in its entirety.

That leaves some groups in the county facing the prospect of having to raise subscription fees or find funds from elsewhere.

A spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council said: "The council has had to make tough decisions to achieve savings of £42.9m in 2019/20, while coping with rising demand for statutory services for the county’s most vulnerable residents.

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"As such, areas of non-statutory spend – such as using taxpayers money to subsidise private use of council-owned school buildings – are being put forward as potential areas of saving.

"All budget proposals are still open to consultation and we are keen to hear as much feedback as possible."

The potential loss of the grant would be from April onwards and it has prompted the county's lead volunteer to write to every councillor to try to change their minds.

Dean Smith, county commissioner and the lead volunteer in Northamptonshire Scouting, said: "This proposed budget cut is potentially devastating for the Scout groups involved.

"Because of this, I have taken the very unusual step of contacting every county councillor asking them to re-think the proposal.

"Local Scout group volunteers, parents and others are also asking the same question of their local county councillor.”

As well as having an immediate impact on Scout Groups involved all over the county, the budget proposal will significantly impede the ability of Scouting to open new groups as new estates are developed.

It could also lead to an increase in subscription fees for parents.

John Masters, district commissioner for Glendon, said: "We have a large group in Corby that it will affect because it's been growing for three years with ages ranging from six to 14-year-olds.

"It's difficult to find other venues. We depend on these grants.

"One of the alternatives would be to restrict activities or we might have to increase the subscription fee."