Protesting toddlers join campaign to save the Romany scout hut
Scouts who could be forced out of the home they built half a century ago have received strong support from both sides of the political battleground.
The 1st Wandsworth Scout Group face an uncertain future after Magdalen Park Lawn Tennis Club (MPLTC), refused to renew the lease on the group's HQ, Romany Scout Hut, in Lyford Road, Wandsworth.
The group also sub-let the site to a daily playgroup, Play House, who have been served with an eviction notice, and lend it out to pensioners and families.
The scouts, who built the hut 50 years ago, are concerned the site will be sold to developers which could bring about both theirs and the playgroup’s extinction.
Now a campaign has been launched, complete with a petition, and backed by both a local Tory representative Dan Watkins and Labour MP Sadiq Khan.
Alexandra Adam, speaking on behalf of MPLTC, said: "We shall fully respect the Scouts legal rights in all respects. We have no legal relationship or informal arrangement of any kind with the playgroup whose presence is due to whatever permissions they have been given by the scouts so limited by our arrangements with them.
"We have no plans to sell the site. We very much hope that whatever the future holds for the Romany site, the community continues to benefit."
Scout leader Tom Arms, 65, from Wandsworth, said they had been trying to negotiate their lease, which ends later this year, and were prepared to pay the market rent.
He said: "If they want to retain it for the community then why don’t they just extend our license? That’s all we ask and we will pay a market rent. There is no other site like that - it is really such a gem.
"MPLTC have also had interest from developers. We know that as they have spoken to us. But it would be wrong to say who they are as it is a commercially sensitive area for the tennis club.
MP Sadiq Khan with one distressed tot
"There will be nowhere for the playgroup to go - they would probably have to shut down and we are concerned the scouts might have to shut down as well."
Liza Coyle play leader from Play House said: "We are run by local mothers for local mothers. We don’t have anywhere else to go. It will be devastating for local mothers."
Ms Adam said MPLTC bought the site in 1978 with a view to move their tennis club there but ended up staying put, and as they now pay market rent to their landlords, they need to release some value from the Romany site.
The scout hut
To sign the petition to protect the Romany site visit: http://www.nappyvalleynet.com/petition-against-the-redevelopment-of-the-romany-scout-hut/
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