Many will be aware of a difficult week for our church in local social media and in the call to sign a petition. This is with regard to the Scout HQ on our Brodrick Hall site. The Facebook post was about ‘Money’ and the petition describes the scouts as no longer being able to meet at the HQ.
We have been meeting with the Gosport District Scout Commissioner and his colleagues to consider how scouting can continue to use the District HQ on a sure legal footing for the future. At our last meeting the scout representatives agreed to assess all their requirements from the building so it can be used in a more affordable way. It has been confirmed that this position has not changed despite the petition and social media of this week.
We understand there is only one scout unit which meets in the HQ every Friday evening being Explorer Scouts serving 14-18s. There has never been any thought that the Explorers would be ‘evicted’ from the HQ. Although the HQ may not used by any other groups (Beaver, Cub or Scout) on a weekly basis we understand that they use it for special events/activities/camps when they visit from their other regular meeting places around Gosport.
Over the past three years, both the church and the scouts have been seeking ways to establish the HQ on a new footing, with our shared preference being that the Scouts either leases or purchases the whole Brodrick site comprising the Brodrick Hall (out of which the Scout Canoe Centre operates) and the Scout HQ. That would have been a very positive outcome for scouting and for the church which has been seeking a partner to ‘take over’ the site in keeping with our community objectives in favour of young people for 50 years!
We regret that when these options were considered (incurring professional fees by both parties) the required costs of such arrangements were not affordable by the District. The PCC of St Mary’s are trustees of a charity and are required to take professional surveyor and legal advice in this matter.
Hence, other options are now being explored so that scouting can continue in the HQ. The default may be that the use of the HQ mirrors that of the Scout Canoe Centre in the Brodrick Hall – where the scouts simply pay for their use and towards their storage space.
By that arrangement the Scout Canoe Centre has flourished for many years and there is no reason why district scouting should not continue to enjoy using the HQ in the future. This is the typical arrangement for many uniformed organisations and is the arrangement by which most community groups use a building.
Indeed, the church has that arrangement in ‘hiring’ the HQ from the scouts for our successful ‘Connections’ seniors drop-in group, both because there is no availability in the Parish Centre and because we have been promoting community use of the Scout HQ. That’s why such arrangements are currently being explored with the Scout District leadership because the PCC is committed to the success of scouting in our community.
Chair of the Parochial Church Council