West Byfleet Guides and Brownies face losing their home after 30 years

WEST BYFLEET Guides and Brownies face losing their home for the past 30 years to make room for a school expansion.

West Byfleet District Girlguiding was told in a phone call earlier this month that its 10-year lease with Surrey County Council for the hut they occupy at the Junior School will not be renewed when it expires on 31 July.

The Girlguiding group and their leaders are appealing to Surrey County Council to let them stay in the hut they have called home for 30 years
Picture: Terry Habgood

After the group appealed for help from county and borough councillors and the Woking MP, they were told by a senior county official that the deadline has been lifted. However, they have been given no guarantees about their future.

A Surrey County Council spokesman told the News & Mail that the school had asked to use the hut once the Guides’ lease expires.

“The plan for the school to use the space was raised by the school Headteacher [Lesley Lawrence) to the Guides leader in March 2020,” the spokesman said.

“We are currently costing up how much it will be to get the hut fit for educational purposes. But we are also speaking with both the school and the Guides to discuss them both potentially sharing the hut, and all parties are looking at options to best service the interests of both the school and the Guides.

“Those talks are ongoing and we remain in regular contact with the Guides.”

Christine Brier, the Guides district commissioner, said the group, which includes more than 120 girls aged 5 to 18, moved into the derelict Second World War prefab school building in 1990 and made a large number of improvements.

Christine said that during lockdown there had been rumours that the lease, for which the Guides pay nearly £1,200 a year from their own fundraising, was not going to be renewed.

She said Naomi Dabney, who leads several of the age group units, made repeated attempts to confirm the situation with the council.

Naomi received a phone call on 10 July to say that the 30-year arrangement was to end and that the Guides would have to leave at the end of the month.

“The fact that we were given just 21 days’ notice in the middle of lockdown has made it all very difficult,” Christine said.

For the full story, see the 23 July edition of the News & Mail

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