An 80-year-old Scout group faces closure after failing to raise enough money to buy the land on which its hut stands.
The 9th Sale Scouts needed to find £150,000 by July 31 this year after St Anne’s Church announced it was selling off the land to help fund repairs.
But after the group’s fundraising efforts were badly hampered by the Covid pandemic leaders have now admitted ‘time is running out’.
Scout group chair Christine Gleaves, who has been involved with the 9th Sale troop for almost 40 years, said: “The church want to sell to fund repairs and I can see their point of view, but this is a thriving Scout group in a deprived area.
“We have members from Sale and Wythenshawe and I’m hoping they will find other groups, but a lot of our families don’t have cars so they won’t be able to travel.
“The hut is going to be knocked down and all the hard work we’ve put in will be lost – it just sticks in the throat.”
Christine, 70, says the closure of the group and the loss of the hut will be ‘devastating’ for the community.
She added: “I’ve got upset about it a few times now.
“Our whole ethos is about helping young people have a sense of independence and that’s going to be lost.
“The church often talks about encouraging the youth, but they don’t seem to be doing that at St Anne’s
“We had a good relationship with the church for years. We were a community. But they just seemed to stop all that and now just want the money, but some things are more important than money.”
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The scout group, which has 75 members aged six to 13, were first informed of the sale in 2019.
They were given the option to raise £150,000 and secure a mortgage on the land, or, alternatively, offered the use of the church hall, which they turned down saying it was ‘unsuitable’.
It’s understood a lease the scout group had on the site ran out in 2005, and ever since then they have rented the building for the ‘peppercorn’ fee of £1 a year.
Once sold it’s anticipated the land will be used for housing.
Canon Alison Cox said the sale was driven by the long-standing need for repairs and a Church of England drive to ensure all its buildings were carbon neutral by 2030.
She said the church had had numerous meetings with the scout executive and offered them a new lease on the building, but had failed to reach an agreement.
Ms Cox added: “I feel the tragedy in this situation isn’t that we need to sell our site in order to fund major work to our own community buildings, which are used by hundreds of people, the tragedy is that the scouts executive are unwilling adapt to changing circumstances.
“All charities have been hit hard by Covid.
“We are out of pocket by the Scouts being on that site and we cannot allow the situation to continue.
“We have offered them the use of wonderful hall next door, which they refused and we are very sad about that.
“We need to draw a line under this situation. It’s been going on for 16 years and we have got to bring it to an end.”