Downhall Under Fives

One of the preschools in Rayleigh , Downhall Under Fives, lost their home when the Scout building behind Ferndale Road was closed in 2005.

They have been searching for a permanent home ever since. The issue was discussed at the District Council last night, and 11 of the Mums came along to watch.

The council agreed to start negotiations for leasing the site of the old scout building to Downhall Under Fives. This would allow the preschool to put a new building there and so move back to their old location. However there are quite a few things to sort out first:

  • J T Byford & Sons , who donated the land to the council back in the 1960s must agree.
  • The negotiations with the council must go OK.
  • The preschool has to get planning permission for a building there.
  • The preschool has to raise enough money to put a building there
  • Following the meeting at the District Council an article appeared in the Yellow Advertiser prompted by the Scouts to help save the current hut on the Ferndale site. The article was totally misleading and in response I emailed the following to the reporter and Editor, I have been promised a reply early in the week commencing 29th Jan.

    Matthew I am glad at the end of your article you asked “what do you think?”. Having spent 20 minutes on the phone with you on Monday of this week trying to ensure that you were fully appraised of the exact position with regards to the Scout hut I am horrified to find that the only piece of information you seem to have retained correctly is my name!. The article you have written is so inaccurate that I feel compelled to send this email and ask you to bring the same to the Editors attention.

    When you said on Monday that you would speak to your editor and call me back I expected out of courtesy that you would. But todate I have not heard any further from you so I will correct your article in the order that it appears.

    The Crouch Valley District Scout Association have already surrendered the lease for the Ferndale building and this was accepted at a meeting of Rochford District Council on the 16th of November 2006, there is no planning to about it, it has been done.

    Alan Bailey District Commissioner has been in negotiations with Downhall Under Fives since October 2005 when notice to quit was served on the Pre-School, Alan Bailey along with the Scout Executive Committee voted to surrender the lease and Alan is very much a male not a female.

    Three independent surveys have been instructed to determine the state of the building, one by Downhall Under Five Pre-School, one by the Scout Association and one by Rochford Borough Council, all have reached the same conclusion that the hut is beyond economical repair and has come to the end of its life expectancy. The cost of repair if it was viable could not be met by the Scouts as they have confirmed to both the Pre-School and RDC that they do not have the funds to undertake them, this part you have reported correctly.

    Councillors met last Thursday the 18th of January to discuss the matter of the future lease of the Ferndale site and have voted to enter into negotiations with Downhall Under Fives with regards to a new lease of the land, subject at all times to planning and the lifting of a restrictive covenant over the land. This is hardly a failure to decide on what to do!.

    The Pre-School have since being served notice to quite in October 2005 always expressed an interest to take over the lease of the Ferndale site, details of the building that we would like to erect on the site have not been finalised and these will of course be subject to planning.

    I do not run the primary group as you call it, we are in fact a Charity run Pre-School providing pre-school education to children in the local area, and prior to vacating the scout hut had been based there for eighteen years. I am one of 12 voluntary committee members and at no time did I say that I ran the group. The quotation that you have written that “there is no chance the building will be saved, its too old and worn out”, is not my personal opinion, it is the opinion of qualified surveyors. The fact stands that the Pre-School and the Scout Association and Rochford District Council have been in long negotiations since October 2005 regarding the Scout hut and Ferndale site, the surrender of the lease was not a decision taken lightly by the Scouts but as they, and this is a quotation from a letter deposited with the Council “do not hold any meetings at the existing hut nor are there sufficient numbers of scouters in any age range with which to establish a new colony pack troop or unit” the decision was made, This decision was also made on the basis that if a new scout group is formed and the Pre-School are successful in obtaining the lease we will always look to accommodate the scouts in the new premises if they so wish and again this is documented in letters deposited with RDC.

    The Pre-School has been in temporary accommodation since December 2005, we are currently in Hullbridge, which is not local to the children that attend. We have throughout our negotiations with the Scouts and Council acted professionally, honestly and with the best intention of all the local children.

    The article you have printed does not in anyway reflect the true situation and the extensive talks, meetings and legalities that have been undertaken by all parties concerned. If the Pre-school are successful in obtaining a lease, and in turn planning we will need substantial funding to erect a new building and we will need the backing of the local community, your article reads to those who are not appraised of the full situation that we are in conflict with the scouts over the future use of the land, and this couldn’t be further from the truth. whilst we were extremely disappointed that notice was served to vacate the hut, the Scout Executive and Pre-School have talked extensively about its future.

    The committee of the Pre-School feels that your article is on the whole incorrect and does not reflect the true position, we would therefore like a further article printed in nexts weeks edition of the Yellow Advertiser apologising for any misrepresentation you have made and a full page correct interview detailing exactly what is happening and making the public and local residents aware of the true position.

    I personally would like an apology as I feel that I have been misrepresented and your quotations untrue.

    I have cc’d all the Downhall Committee and other related parties into this email so that no further misrepresentation can be made.

    Please acknowledge this email

    Yours sincerely

    Mrs Hayley Bloomfield for and on behalf of Downhall Under Fives