Scouts using land was not the issue

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I’d like to respond to the article ‘Row over scouts camp on Fyning rec’ in the Observer last week.

What a wonderful misinformed piece of work carried out by two upstanding members of our village – 483 signatures were collected to support the scouts to camp on our registered village green.

What saddens me is if only these same people attended even one parish council meeting, they would have known exactly what was happening in the village and not be so inclined to waste their time.

The use of the land by the scouts was NEVER the issue.

A letter from me in the July copy of our local parish magazine stated this.

It was also pointed out at the annual meeting of the parish council, though failed to be minuted, and again it was pointed out at the meeting on Monday, July 18.

It was quite clearly stated this was not the problem. The Observer has failed to report that.

It was embarrassing for the scouts to listen to the discord in the village and for the 483 supporters of the petition to learn they were wrong in supporting a cause that was not at issue in the first place.

The so-called ‘objectors’ were putting themselves on the line to protect a precious piece of land for the village. But perhaps they, too, should have drawn up a petition to tell the village of the intention to build five 4ft by 4ft concrete fire-pits on a small piece of woodland that is used only 20 days of the year by the scouts.

Their objection was supported by DEFRA regulations concerning building permanent structures on a registered village green.

Concerns were also for the area that is small and a great fire risk during the increasingly-changing climate where natural combustible materials are in the woodland.

The confusion arose following the chairman’s misleading and ill-judged letters in the June and July copy of our parish magazine.

The chairman’s personal views have tainted the views of the parishioners.

As chairman, he could have stopped this appalling situation by firstly not stating his personal opinion and by not inflaming a concern of local people by calling them ‘objectors’.

The report to Chichester District Council had nothing to do with the scouts and is an entirely separate issue concerning the parish council.

The question of costs is entirely false as the money for the litigation was covered by insurance and returned to the parish council through their insurers.

If the parish council listened to the community, then litigation would not have been necessary in the first place but unfortunately one demanding, threatening parishioner was given more consideration.

If another case against the parish council happens, then we should question their capabilities to act on behalf of the community.

On a positive note, we at last have two more new councillors who act professionally and are working towards getting the parish council back on track. Thank you to them.

We have an active youth group in the village who, with the cutbacks to provide funding for a leader, are struggling to keep going.

Would it not have been more advisable for the 483 people to give their support to them and to give an hour of their time for the youth of our own village, rather than wasting their time on a petition that was futile and unnecessary?

Ann M Arnold

Ex-parish councillor,

Fyning Lane,