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Community / Lodberry hopes sink for scouts

Talks are ongoing about finding alternative premises.

Pier in LerwickThe lodberry at Copeland's Pier. Photo: SIC

SHETLAND Islands Council says it is continuing to work with the Lerwick sea scouts on finding alternative premises after it pressed ahead with the sale of the lodberry the group had used for over 50 years.

The sea scouts could not persuade the council, who were the landlords, to delay the sale of the Lodberry building on Lerwick’s Commercial Street after failing to raise the £45,000-plus it needed to buy the property before last Thursday’s closing date.

Sea scouts leader Laurence Goudie said talks continue over finding new premises, including the possibility of building a new custom built hut, but concerns remain over what will happen in the interim.

“Although a custom built scout hut would be ideal and the best solution for the future, we still have the ongoing problem of not having anywhere for the scouts to safely learn seamanship skills while it is being considered and built,” he said.

“We have already lost four years due to this, and I don’t want to lose any more.”

The scouts had found themselves locked out of the building on Copeland’s Pier a few years ago as the local authority took back control, with the group saying this meant they had no “safe place to access the sea or store the boats and equipment”.

The ailing condition of the Grade B listed lodberry, however, led to some suggesting efforts should be focused more on finding new premises, with the bill for renovating the property likely to be costly.

The sea scouts has around 40 or 50 members in total and it had launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for buying the lodberry after failing to reach any compromise with the council, but the fundraiser fell well short.

“We didn’t manage to raise the necessary funds in time and negotiations with the council to postpone the closing date weren’t successful, which means we have lost the cause,” Goudie said on the fundraising page.

“Thank you for all those that donated and shared, the Lerwick sea scouts truly appreciate your efforts.”

A spokesperson for Shetland Islands Council said: “The council is going ahead with its plans to dispose of the property, but is still working with the sea scouts and other interested individuals and groups to identify an appropriate alternative.”

Goudie said the sea scouts were given use of the lodberry and a hut at Hayfield, which was used in the winter, on an indefinite “zero pound” lease as a charitable donation back in the 1960s.

The lodberry has its own slipway out onto the sea, while it also has an accommodation area on the ground floor and open plan upper floor with a balcony.

The sea scouts gives youngsters the chance to take part in water based activities in addition to the usual scouts skills, although getting children out on the sea has been curtailed in recent years due to the property issue.