Northampton Scouts groups face venue cuts if subsidy pulled

Little Bethanie and her brother Callum love going to scouts every week and would be devastated if they couldn't attend the session in Ecton Brook, mum Cat said.
Little Bethanie and her brother Callum love going to scouts every week and would be devastated if they couldn't attend the session in Ecton Brook, mum Cat said.

Northamptonshire County Council might stop paying a subsidy for Scout group venues.

For the past seven years, the 55th Northampton Little Billing Scouts Group has used Ecton Brook Primary School's main hall to host sessions for cubs, beavers and scouts.

After an announcement last week by Northamptonshire County Council, Scout leaders have been told that a part of the authority's schools grant, which subsidises the private use of school halls, is currently under threat.

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

“As such, areas of non-statutory spend – such as using tax payers 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.”

As scout groups in Northamptonshire gear up for the potential loss of the grant from April, one leader has said she is hopeful groups will rally together and raise money through fundraising.

Group Scout leader of 55th Northampton Little Billing, Steph Hines, has coached six-to-14-year-olds in the art of problem-solving, teamwork and practical skills for the past 12 years.

She said: "I'm trying to be positive. I think it would be helpful if they did not get rid of the budget.

"It gives the children skills for life. If we lose the grant or subsidy it means the children might lose out in the long run.

"We would have to increase fees and fundraising. As a group, it is worrying. It's about looking at all options that are available."

The consultation period runs from December 12 to January 23 before the final decision will be made at full council on February 21.

Cat Monnington sends her two children Bethanie, nine, and Callum, eight, to Scouts in Little Billing.

She said: "They love it, they look forward to it every week. Bethanie has made lots of new friends, she was very shy when she started.

"Obviously it is concerning. It makes me angry because there is no other things for children to do in this area. There is no other youth club or anything, it's upsetting.

"I know there are a lot of parents in Ecton Brook who don't drive so if it's not there they won't be doing anything of an evening."