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Abington Camp Site statement - May 2013

Update on the sale of Little Abington Scout Campsite.

As part of the County Executive Committee’s commitment to all members of Cambridgeshire Scouting to keep you informed of progress in relation to the sale of Little Abington Campsite we are able to provide another update.

We know how emotive this issue is to some people and that there is a lot of debate by some members. Sometimes this debate has not been well informed so we hope that the following update helps ensure all Members have the facts.

Whilst we are unable to enter into individual correspondence on this matter if you have
any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us via Liz Craig the County Commissioner or John Holme the County Chairman  as we do read all emails and letters.

Why are you selling the campsite?
The campsite is being sold in order to protect and advance the best interests of all Members
of Cambridgeshire Scouting. Following extensive reviews and the detailed analysis of
several business plans and options for the site it is clear that the site does not have an
economically viable future. It is poorly used as a County facility, requires massive investment
and presents a financial and operational risk which is not in the best interests of Members.

The site was underused and there has been no indication that the downward trend in use
could be reversed. In 2011 there were 88 bookings and in 2012 there were 82. Under half of
the bookings were from Cambridgeshire Scouts.

The proceeds of the sale will be used to advance the development of Scouting across the
County for the benefit of all Members and future Members.

What consultation was held with Members?
The future of Little Abington Campsite has been in discussion for many years. In January
2012 the then Acting County Commissioner sent a message to all adult Members of
Cambridgeshire Scouting to invite them to comment on the future of the site. A copy of that
message can be seen here.

By the closing date to make comments on the future of the site four plans had been
submitted. These were from:
• Little Abington Scout Campsite Management Committee
• Granta/Cambridge District Consortium
• And two individuals

Whilst the original intention was to make a decision in August 2012 the County Executive felt
it would be better to give more time to review the submitted plans and therefore set up an
independent review group to undertake this important task.

In January 2013 the review group invited all the groups and individuals who submitted
proposals to attend a meeting to present their plans. The Granta/Cambridge District
Consortium and one of the individuals withdrew their proposals at that time and
subsequently did not attend. That said, the review Group did still consider the proposals to
ensure no option was overlooked. The review Group then presented their recommendations
to the County Executive Committee. The Executive Committee met in February 2013 and
made their decision. An online survey was set up as a result of this to gather opinions on
camping facilities and 289 completed responses were received.

When was the decision made and who made it?
The Trustees of the County made the decision to sell the campsite after careful
consideration and presentation of the options by the independent review group. The decision
was made at the County Executive meeting in February 2013. It was reviewed again at
the County Executive meeting on 15th April and the Committee remain confident that the
decision is the appropriate one and is in the best interests of the charity.

Who actually owns the site?
Cambridgeshire Scout County are the freehold owners of the site. This has been confirmed
by the Scout Association Trust Corporation and legal advisors.

What should I do if I disagree with the decision?
The County Executive Committee understands that campsites have a lot of emotion
attached to them. We know that some people will have enjoyed using the site in the past and
they have an attachment to it. However, the decisions taken are made looking forward on
the best way to protect and develop Scouting in Cambridgeshire in the future.

The decision has been taken following the appropriate process and has been tested by
the Executive. The Committee remains satisfied that the decision is the correct one for the
County and therefore it will not be reversed.

If you disagree with the decision you can write to us to let us know and we will read
your letter; but the sale will proceed and the funds realised will be invested in the future
development of Scouting across the County.

Will a petition reverse the decision?
The Trustees are satisfied that the decision they have made is in the best interests of the
County and therefore it will not be reversed. We are aware that there is an online petition
and we have looked at this to gauge the depth of feeling. Whilst there are around 1,400
signatures it appears that under 10% are adult Members of Cambridgeshire Scouting (with
the majority being from Cambridge District as the District closest to the campsite).

Where can I go instead of Abington for camps and activities?
Outdoor activities for young people are an important part of the programme. There are many
opportunities to take part in outdoor activities at a variety of locations. Some programme
ideas for outdoor activities can be found at www.scouts.org.uk/pol

A list of similar open spaces and campsites in the local area will be posted on the website in
the next few days

What will happen to the Group that meets at the site?
The County Team is currently working on a ongoing basis with the Abington Jeremiahs
Scout Group to help ensure suitable accommodation can be found in the local area.