Ex-Garstang Mayor's scouts HQ proposals scrapped

The scout and guide hut in Kepple Lane, Garstang
The scout and guide hut in Kepple Lane, Garstang

Controversial plans unveiled by a former Garstang mayor to transform the town's scout and guide headquarters into a new state-of-the-art community facility, have been dumped - just days after the idea became public.

Coun Graham Salisbury had drawn up the sketch plans for the Kepple Lane site, incorporating a new council chamber, as a basis for discussion about community facilities in Garstang.

Sketch proposals drawn up by Coun Graham Salisbury for the Kepple Lane site

Sketch proposals drawn up by Coun Graham Salisbury for the Kepple Lane site

But the lack of consultation with both his fellow councillors and with the scouts and guides, who are tenants at the site, sparked angry protests at Monday night’s meeting of Garstang Town Council.

Details of the proposals only emerged when the council agenda was published last week.

About 20 representatives of scout and guide groups packed into the public seats at Garstang Library to air their views, having only heard about the ideas on social media.

But the fiercest criticism came from Coun Sandra Perkins, who, to applause from the public gallery, told Coun Salisbury: “I am disappointed that you would be so arrogant to do this and not inform councillors and not consult the public. It is arrogant and bolshie and I am very disappointed.”

Coun Graham Salisbury

Coun Graham Salisbury

She added: “You should have asked us before these drawings were done.”

Coun Salisbury replied: “Why?”

Coun Perkins told him: “Because we are the members of this council. You have got this cut and dried like everything else you touch”

Coun Salisbury replied: “Absolute rubbish!”

He said it was the concept he wanted to discuss, adding, they were not detailed drawings.

Coun Roger Brooks called for calm saying: “It is not for his [Coun Salisbury’s] personal benefit – let’s row back from extreme language.”

Coun Salisbury added he had not released the plans and added his aim had been to improve and make the site better “and it was well meant”.

Coun Gordon Harter, a trustee of the award-winning Kepple Lane Park Trust, also tenants of the land, labelled Coun Salisbury’s scheme “incredulous”.

He added: “When I first came across the item on the agenda, I’ll be honest I thought was it a joke?

“Community is people not posh buildings, which isn’t going to make a difference.

“A lot of work gone into this park, a lot of people passionate about it. I just do not know where you are coming from.”

Coun Alan Cornthwaite said there was a lot of sensitivity surrounding the issue as three years ago other proposals involving the same site had upset the scouts and guides.

Guide and scout representatives present said they had “grave concerns” having only discovered about the latest plans after reading about them on Facebook at the weekend.

Guide official Becky Davenport hit out at the lack of consultation and lack of understanding about the use of current building - used every week by 400 young people.

She added: “While maybe not the most pleasing to the eye that building serves it’s purpose. Our leaders offer youngsters a superb programme totally relevant to the 21st century.”

Another guide official, to applause, wondered what the council’s attitude would be in the event of closing the existing premises to make way for a new building down, to “400 young people on the streets of Garstang having nothing to do”.

The building’s management chairman, Alan Pearson, echoed the comments and said more than £30,000 had been spent on the interior over the years.

He said until the uncertainty posed by Coun Salisbury’s proposals were resolved it would be necessary to cancel plans for a £3,000 new kitchen.

He added: “This is pie in the sky.”

He said he had first heard about the plans last Friday, and criticised the fact that the council had not consulted its tenants - the scouts / guides – whose lease has several years to run.

Town clerk Edwina Parry referred to several emails expressing concern, including one from regional guide chief Julie Bell of Garstang.

Coun Salisbury said he apologised for the way the matter had been “leaked to the media”, although the plans only became public when they were published in a council agenda.

At the end of the heated debate the council voted to not to pursue the matter.