Court called in to solve rent row between scouts and preschool

A ROW over rent between a Hutton preschool and the district scout group has erupted into a full-blown legal dispute, with the association claiming it is owed thousands of pounds.

Scout leaders and managers of the group for toddlers are locked in a dispute amid claims of unpaid rent of just over �3,000.

Axe District Scouts has resorted to legal measures, claiming that Little Owls Preschool defaulted on payments for using the scout hut, off St Marys Road, from April 2010 to April 2011.

The scout group took over the running of the hall, which Little Owls also used, from the Friends of Hutton Guiding. The part-owner of the preschool says the agreement was only valid with the guiding organisation.

Martin Howell, who runs the preschool business with his wife, said: “We had an agreement with the Friends of Hutton Guiding, which is not a claimant, to lease the hall and we have also done work to refurbish it over the years.


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“When the scouts took over the hut they suggested an increase of 80 per cent in rent, backdated to September 2010. We rejected that, and the next we heard was when we had this claim through. I don’t know why they’ve put in a claim as we’ve never had any agreement with the scouts.”

Hutton Parish Council terminated the scouts’ lease of the site earlier this year, before buying it for an undisclosed sum in April, with councillors saying they had been unhappy with the way the facility had been run.

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The council had previously told the scout group not to change any terms and conditions of the negotiating agreement while talks over the lease were ongoing.

Jeremy Birkett, a member of the Axe District Scouts executive, said: “Mr and Mrs Howell, trading as a commercial business known as Little Owls Preschool, are in default of rent payment due for use of the former scout headquarters in Hutton over a period of 12 months.

“Following attempts to resolve the situation, and bearing in mind our own registered charity duty to maintain sound financial governance for the benefit of all young people in the local scout district, we have been left no option other than to pursue a claim for rent arrears through the county court.

“As this matter is now before the court it would be both inappropriate and unwise for either party to comment further.”

Depending on whether evidence is submitted by both parties, the case may be settled at Bristol County Court later this year.

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