A PARISH council has been forced to hold a referendum, which will cost thousands of pounds, on the recent move of Oxford’s biggest scout group from its home of more than 50 years.

The Fourth Oxford Scout Group say they were ‘evicted’ from their hut at the Louie Memorial Playing Fields in North Hinksey at the end of February over a high-profile council development.

The parish council, however, argues it was an ‘active choice’ to vacate, rather than sign a new rent-free lease that would have enabled them to stay until at least April 2022.

Its plan, which has been years in the making, will see the existing pavilion and old scout hut demolished and replaced by a larger, more modern complex at the playing fields in Arnold’s Way.

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At the North Hinksey Annual Parish Meeting on Thursday evening, a poll was proposed by two parioshioners on whether the scouts should be offered a lease at same terms they had in the past.

Councillors already warned that this will cost around £3,000 and be run by the Vale District Council at a future date.

In a statement on social media Vale of White Horse District councillor Emily Smith explained that a parish poll is non-binding but is essentially a referendum on the matter,which the parish council can use to aid future decisions on the matter.

James Wynne, chair of trustees for the scout group, commented on the result: “It was good for there to finally be some public debate about the negative consequences of the current plans to develop the playing fields.

“We hope this is an opportunity for the plans to be changed, because currently they exclude one of Oxford’s largest scout group and jeopardise its future.

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“The existing scout hut can be left in place and the new community centre can still be built unchanged, so this is the obvious solution.

“The land has been shared with the scouts for 50 years, letting them meet in their hut in one small corner, and it can still be shared with them if the parish council wanted to.

“That would be a win-win for the local community and future generations.”

While Fourth Oxford has been fighting tooth and nail to save its home over the last few years, some parishioners are now ‘fed up’ with the disagreement between the group and the council.

One North Hinksey resident Emma Evans argued that most people do not want any more money or time to be spent on this as there is ‘clearly no compromise or way forward’.

Ms Evans also said that she would prefer that money and time are instead spent on improvements for the entire community.

Earlier this year council chairman David Kay revealed that repeated offers were made to Fourth Oxford to discuss ways forward over the past few years.

He added: “We would like to make it clear that the scouts have chosen to vacate the scout hut on Arnold’s Way at this time despite having the option of signing a rent-free lease.”