THE Fremantle Scout Group has been kicked out of the Leeuwin Scout hall after a protracted dispute with another hall user.
At its March 17 meeting, East Fremantle council voted to give the Hurricane Dragon Boat Club a five-year lease on the hall, despite the Scouts having used the riverside facility for the past 40 years.
Scouting parents are angry over the decision, and Scouting WA branch leader Barbara de la Hunty spoke at the council meeting to argue their case.
Ms de la Hunty, the daughter of famed Olympic athlete Shirley Strickland, said the area was significant due to its history and being a safe water area for young children.
“Scouts WA want to expand the use of the building for surrounding scout groups,” Ms de la Hunty said.
Andrew Patman’s son is a Scout, and he fears losing their base will affect their membership.
The council has told the Scouts they’ll have to crunch all their groups into the nearby Camp Waller Scout Hall below the East Fremantle Lawn Tennis Club on Preston Point Road, offering to fund some “minor refurbishment”.
But Mr Patman said the new venue had limited space and no universal toilets, making it harder to attract new members.
The club would also have to spend precious funds to bring it up to a decent standard.
“Many of the children are from south of the river or Fremantle due to no other youth clubs being closer,”
A report to the council meeting noted that one of the reasons the Hurricanes’ expressions of interest for
the hall was favoured over the Scouts was due to more members being from the local area.
The Hurricanes first asked the Scouts if they could store their oars in the hall about a decade ago, but the rivalry picked up three years ago when the council facilitated a deal for the paddlers to share the hall to store their long canoes out of the rain and sun.
Mr Patman said problems emerged soon after, saying the Hurricanes wouldn’t abide by the Scouts’ strict child protection rules such as a ban on drinking alcohol in the hall.
He said they also failed to put away equipment which they got in the way of the Scouts’ activities.
The clashes led to a leader of the Joeys group to resign and their gatherings petered out.
“Fremantle Scout Group also conduct all their swimming, rafting, small dinghy sailing, using the small safe beach and protected waters nearby away from the river traffic and moorings,” Mr Patman said.
“The facility is also used regularly by neighbouring and regional scout groups to conduct safe swimming, boating and water activities in the area and is also used as a staging point for Sea Scout activities towards Rottnest and Garden island.
East Fremantle deputy mayor Jenny Harrington said the council had “conducted a transparent and thorough process” to resolve the issue.
“All submissions were considered meritorious in their own right, which made this a very difficult decision, however, after careful consideration we chose the tenant whose proposal demonstrated the greatest local benefit and would generate the best value proposition for the community,” Cr Harrington said.
The Herald contacted the Hurricanes for their side of the story but hadn’t heard back before deadline.
by CHARLOTTE BELL