John wins battle for scout hut upgrade

JOB DONE Christopher Ward, Lancashire senior probation; officer Paul Eccles, payback supervisor and Coun John Singleton.

JOB DONE Christopher Ward, Lancashire senior probation; officer Paul Eccles, payback supervisor and Coun John Singleton.

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A scheme which triggered controversy because of the use of criminals as free labour has now been completed.

Frustrated at being unable to secure a community payback team to help upgrade Staining Scout Hut, Fylde councillor John Singleton used a Freedom of Information request to discover the team, made of criminals, was undertaking tens of thousands of hours of work for neighbouring Blackpool Council.

Coun Singleton claimed it was unfair his project was missing out on getting help and said the work should be undertaken by council workers instead, although Blackpool Council insisted the team did not do any work council officers would ordinarily have done.

But after he raised the concerns, the Probation Service agreed to put a team on improving the hut – and now the work has finally been done.

Coun Singleton, who is also chairman of 1st Staining Scouts, said: “I am happy to report the Probation Team completed the required work earlier this month and now 1st Staining Scout headquarters has been painted externally and is much improved.

“I am pleased I won my battle because I didn’t see why Blackpool Council should be in the privileged position of getting their work done when community payback is meant to support all kinds of community projects.

“However, we got the outcome we wanted and on behalf of 1st Staining Scouts and the community I would like to thank the payback team for their work.”

Offenders work with Blackpool Council’s neighbourhood services department in return for sponsorship of £3,400 a month.

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