Scouts in danger with lease limbo

THERE are serious fears for the future of Scout groups at Hillside.

This is not because of any apathy on the part of local youth. Far from it, as between 60 and 70 youngsters regularly attend meetings of Scouts, Cubs, Beavers and Explorers.

The difficulty lies with the deteriorating condition of the Scout hut, and the seeming impossibility of an appropriate leasing arrangement being reached with the owners of the land.

Although funding bodies are prepared to make a very significant contribution towards the cost of a new Scout hut, they will only do so if a 25-year lease is in place. There are 13 years to run on the current lease, so a new lease would have to be put in place.

And Wednesday’s meeting of Hillside, Dun and Logie Pert Community Council was told that this is just not happening.

Joy Turriff explained that negotiations are conducted through a firm of solicitors acting on behalf of the sole trustee of the land, who is believed to live abroad. A letter takes weeks to be answered, and it is felt that there is no will on the part of the trustee to reach an agreement.

Councillor Mark Salmond said Angus Council officials had tried to negotiate on behalf of the Scouts, but had met the same difficulties. He concluded that the position was a stalemate.

Chairman Mrs Kittie Ritchie said there was a feeling that the trustee was hoping to sell the land for development, but because it is clearly defined on the local plan as for recreational use, this was a non-starter.

Various possible alternative sites were mentioned, but a Scout hut requires services such as electricity, water and drainage, and the price of connection over any lengthy distance is prohibitive.

The Scouts are aware that a five-figure sum is almost inevitable for new connections even if a new site for the hut can be found close to services. But with the existing hut thought to have less than a year’s life, time is not on the Scouts’ side.

Mrs Ritchie said the community council would write again to the trustee, but in the meantime she made an appeal to anyone in the community with knowledge of a suitable piece of ground, preferably with or near services, to make that known to the Scouts.

During other business Community Constable Tracy Brown warned local people to be ever alert against thefts of fuel oil and metal items to be sold for scrap. Special Constable Richard Martin can advise companies and organisations about precautions they can take.

Mention was made of the dangers of playing golf on the village football field. A lady had almost been hit by a ball. Constable Brown asked anyone who witnesses this to contact police at once. Mrs Ritchie added that a bye-law prohibited the playing of golf on the field in any case.