Leeds scouts in rents protest

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SCOUT groups in Leeds have launched a campaign against the council amid “enormous” rent increases which they claim will threaten their futures.

The campaign, called Don’t Raise Our Rents, was launched after scout groups were subjected to “spiralling” rates in 2011.

Traditionally, Leeds City Council has only charged nominal ‘ground rents’ for the land on which scout huts are based, but many groups also meet in schools across the area.

As reported in the YEP, the council has now scrapped a fund which subsidises the use of school facilities during weekends and evenings, which has led to sports clubs and groups being hit with higher rates.

One group in Barwick-in-Elmet now has to find an extra £1,200 a year to cover charges from Leeds City Council, according to Central Yorkshire Scouts.

The scout group has been part of the community for more than 30 years and is based in the village’s primary school.

Scout leader Cathryn Atkinson said: “The impact on the members is that as well as subscription fees, we are now faced with charging our young people an additional amount in order to meet these costs.

“In today’s economic climate, whilst the sums per person are fairly nominal, it is still a worry that scouting will become unaffordable for some families.”

The Leeds campaign is part of a national drive run by The Scout Association on ground rents and rate increases.

A petition has been set up at: www.dontraiseourrents.org, where people are asked to show their support for the campaign.

Nigel Richardson, director of children’s services for Leeds City Council, said: “We sympathise with these issues and acknowledge the valuable role Scout groups can play.

“However, schools receive government funding for extended activities and have also been receiving money from the council for the same thing.

“In the current financial climate we simply cannot afford to continue this double funding.”

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