Orpington scout group told by St Olave's School to leave
ONE of the world’s oldest scout groups is fearing for its future after a school declared it will be evicting it from its grounds.
The 3rd Orpington Scout Group built its own headquarters 46 years ago and has remained at the Goddington Lane site, which it shares with St Olave’s Grammar School, ever since.
However, in August St Olave’s reiterated it would now be using the site and the scout group would have to find another headquarters by July 2013.
Andrew Watkins, 37, a Cub Scout leader at the branch, has been connected with the group since he was eight.
He said: "If we were moved I would be absolutely distraught that is all I can say.
"The kids that have the common sense to think about it are thinking ‘why are they bullying us’"
The group was originally formed in 1929 making it one of the few scout groups to have survived through the war.
MP Jo Johnson and London Assembly member James Cleverly have both made attempts to persuade St Olave’s to change the decision by approaching the school personally.
Even the Duchess of Cambridge, a Scout ambassador, has sent a letter lending her support to the group.
Mr Watkins, of Warren Road, Orpington, said: "It is highly unfair because it is not like St Olave’s need the land.
"Personally, I did not think we had any problems with the school."
The scout group has 112 members and is recognised as the most successful scout group in the borough.
Mr Cleverly says he will help with efforts to find a new site for the group because he does not see an agreement being made between the two parties.
He said: "I am a huge fan of the work of the Scouts in general.
"And I am disappointed that a mutually agreeable position between the 3rd Orpington Scouts and St Olave's Grammar School seems not to be on the cards.
"Clearly, I will be happy to support their efforts to secure a new HQ and help protect their ability to continue their excellent work supporting and developing local young people."
St Olave's headteacher Aydin Önaç confirmed that the school would be using the site and wished the group all the best in the future.
He said: "The school has already explained to the Scout leaders that it requires to take back the accommodation for its own purposes.
"I cannot comment at this stage on the particular use as we are under pressure in so many different ways, both in terms of space and, more particularly, in terms of the financial pressure from Public Sector funding cuts.
"The governors have generously agreed to extend the Scouts’ occupation which should give them more than sufficient time to find alternative accommodation."