Town council accused of “politicising” Scout group in Brook Way sign dispute

Signage at Brook Way Activity Centre, Bradley Stoke.

Bradley Stoke Town Council (BSTC) has been accused of “unfairly politicising” a local Scout group in a dispute over signage at the Brook Way Activity Centre.

The centre currently sports a large sign advertising the 1st Bradley Stoke Scout Group, but a resident speaking at a BSTC Youth Committee meeting in October last year suggested that the current signage was misleading and should be replaced with one that clearly identifies the building as being available for use by the whole community.

The resident added that he believed this might encourage more people to consider hiring the building, which has seen a large drop in income since the council decided to establish a youth club there in 2009 – a venture which ended in failure less than two years later.

The suggestion was enthusiastically received by the council and nine days later, at the October Planning Committee meeting, its facilities manager presented plans to add an extra triangular sign above the Scouts’ existing one. However, when councillors came to make a decision at the November Planning Committee meeting, the plans had been altered such that the new town council sign would completely replace the Scout’s sign leaving the youth organisation with a much smaller sign to be mounted on the wall of the building, above the noticeboard.

Despite a decision being made in November, the matter came back to the December Planning Committee meeting, where it was revealed that the Scouts had written to the council expressing “unease and concern” about the decision to remove their large sign and expressing concern that they were being “unfairly politicised”.

Councillors agreed to defer a final decision to the January Planning Committee meeting, on Wednesday 22nd January, which representatives from the Scout Group have been invited to attend in order to “discuss their concerns”.

Last year, the Scout group failed to gain the wholehearted support of the town council for a plan, put together by one of its Beaver Scout leaders and Cllr Ben Walker, to convert the granite pillars in the town square at the Willow Brook Centre into a war memorial.

Cllr Walker, who is a member of the Scout group’s Executive Committee, served as the town’s Mayor for two years between 2010 and 2012, but has seen his influence within the town council wane since he defected from the ruling Conservatives to UKIP in May 2012.

Proposed new signage at Brook Way Activity Centre, Bradley Stoke.

Image: Artist’s impression of the proposed new signage, showing the large Scouts’ sign replaced by a town council sign and a much smaller Scouts’ sign on the wall to the right.

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  1. I have to admit I’ve never really understood why the council allowed the scouts to label the building as their own in the first place..

    If they hope that it can retain its intended role as a community centre it is quite simply bad branding to have it signed up as though it was a scout hut.

  2. Who owns the building?
    If the scouts do then they can put whatever sign up that they like, if BSTC own it but only allow the scouts to use it then it should be signed as such. If BSTC own it but will allow anyone to hire it then it should be signed as such with NO reference to the scouts as they would be one of a number of people using it.

    This isn’t rocket science and really should have been sorted out with all the usual stench of self-serving manure that emanates from the Council offices.

  3. Why are you all complaining about the planning committee spending time on this? Councillors have to do SOMETHING to try and justify the need for a town council…

  4. From the draft minutes of last week’s BSTC Planning Committee meeting:

    In light of the fact that Councillor John Ashe was not at the meeting, Councillor Elaine Hardwick read out a short comment from Councillor Ashe on his behalf:

    “To say that the reason that the council are considering to change the signage at Brook Way is political is incorrect and head line seeking. Whether the signage was for Bradley Stoke Radio or Christ the King Church we would still want to change it to attract more use of our activity centre. This extra use generates more income for the council to provide extra facilities for the residents of Bradley Stoke without the need to increase the precept”

    The Chair thanked Councillor Elaine Hardwick and then welcomed Mr Clive Mason, Group Scout Leader, 1st Bradley Stoke Scout group to the meeting and invited him to address those present.

    Mr Mason thanked councillors for inviting him to attend the meeting and then read out the following Group Statement: [PDF, 278kB]

    In that statement, Mr Mason says: “At the end of the day, we totally understand that as building owners and subject to planning approval, the Council can do what it wants. However, I’m afraid to say that after enjoying a good relationship with BSTC, we are beginning to feel that along with several other matters, there is a lack of understanding as to the scale of what we do for young people in the community and the support we are (not) receiving.”

    Mr Mason also circulated a “compromise” proposal for the signage (shown below).

    Brook Way Activity Centre signage - Scouts' compromise.

    The committee agreed that diagrams and costings for ALL proposed signage options should be prepared for discussion at the next (February) Planning Committee meeting.

  5. When is Mr Ben Walker leaving the scout group, now he is a full UKIP politician and campaigning for election etc he should no longer be associated with a group that has multi faith and multi nationalitys in it. How can the scout group be involved with a political,party especially UKIP and what it stands for. Time for a new chairman and allow Mr Walker time to concentrate on his political career.

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