This is a personal, unofficial webpage run by someone who likes Little Abington Campsite.
About the Campsite
Current status: Cambridgeshire County Scout Council has now agreed to sell the campsite to Cambridge International School, who are based in the village. The bid was put together in patnership with Little Abington Parish Council. Commenting on the sale, Daniel Sturdy from Cambridge International School said "We are delighted to be acquiring this site. We plan to operate it as an Outdoor Education Centre, including a forest school and will work with a range of community groups. We look forward to welcoming Scout Groups and other youth and community groups back onto the site in the very near future."
Little Abington Campsite and Training Ground is a Scout campsite currently managed by Cambridgeshire County Scout Council. The village of Little Abington itself lies around eight miles south-east of Cambridge, close to the A1307. The site is here (at the green arrow) on Google Maps.
The campsite comprises grass and woodland, covering about seven acres; it is bordered on the south by the small stream that becomes the River Granta. There are indoor catering facilities, showers, and toilets. Pioneering, shooting, and archery are among the on-site activities available. There are plenty of routes for hiking in the local area. Local attractions include Duxford Imperial War Museum and Linton Zoo.
The site is home to the Abington Jeremiahs Scout Group.
The site could be booked by Scout groups and other registered charities until the end of July 2013, but is at present closed, as the County Executive Committee for Cambridgeshire Scouts has decided to sell it. For more information, see above. (There's more about responses to the decision to sell below, though most of this dates from before Cambridge International School put in their bid, and it looked as if the site would be sold to developers.) There is information on the Scout County's website at www.cambridgeshirescouts.org.uk. This includes a Campsite directory, interspersing information about alternative campsites inside and outside Cambridgeshire.
History and ownership documents
Sale of the site: the Scout County's decision
Cambridgeshire Scout Council Executive Committee decided at their meeting on 20th February 2013 to sell the campsite in its entirety with the already-acquired planning permission for residential development, for as much money as it would fetch. You can read the advertisement (with further details) from the agent January's. The statements that were on the Scout County's website about the sale (archived here) have recently been removed. The current statement and update are on this page. The Scout County was, it turns out, considering selling the whole site back in October 2012, though this was not widely known at the time. The contact details for the Executive Committee are to be found here.
Opposition to the sale, and alternative options
- A group called FACS ("Friends of Abington Camp Site") has formed to look at whether the site could continue to be kept open for use. They have put out a press release. (Click here to read it.) Their e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org; they'd be interested to hear from anyone interested in helping to save the campsite.
- A group of concerned parents was set up at a meeting on Monday 13th May 2013. The contact for this group is Paul Morris.
- Some other people opposed to the decision have set up an online petition. This allows those signing it to leave messages, and now has over 2000 entries. (A few a duplicates, but several are on behalf of more than one person.)
- There is a "Save Our Abington" Facebook page, which includes lots of good pictures of the campsite. Linked to this is a twitter feed.
- A Cambridge academic has set up a blog with details of why he thinks that the campsite shouldn't be closed. It includes an analysis of usage data, and much more besides. The first post on this blog, which claims that data supporting the campsite sale have been quoted in a way that is misleading, resulted in a Twitter post from science author Ben Goldacre.
- The MP for Cambridge, Julian Huppert, wants to see the site saved as a community asset, and has called for the national Scout Association to intervene. After meeting the County Commissioner, he has put out another statement. The MP for South Cambridgeshire, Andrew Lansley, has also expressed support for the campsite.
- Little Abington Parish Council organized a public meeting to discuss the proposed sale and development of the site. This was on Thursday 16th May. There's a report on it in the Haverhill Echo.
- The campsite has recently been designated an asset of community value (table here), ensuring that there is a community right to bid for the site under the Localism Act 2011. There is now a page about it on The Place Station.
- Another blogger has a post here, and there's also a piece on Quora.
- The Parish Council of Little Abington prepared to form a charitable trust in the hope of being able to buy the site and keep it available as an open space for use by Scouts and others. The Parish Council have published a further report on their progress, referring to their formal expression of interest document as well as the latest news from FACS, which provides information about the Abington Woods Foundation. (There's also coverage in the Cambridge Evening News.)
- Superseding the news in the last bullet point, there has been a successful community bid by Cambridge International School working in partnership with the Parish Council: there are more details at the top of the page.
- The campsite has been in the news recently, on account of the proposed sale. The FACS press release gives a list of links to newspaper articles. (More recent Cambridge News articles are here and here.) There is a story on the BBC website. The Facebook page also has copies of some articles from the local press, and links to others.
- The Escouts Community web-forum has had an initial thread, an enquiry to the Chief Commisioner, and a much more detailed follow-up thread about the proposed sale.
- There's another forum discussion on UK Villages Online.
- The campsite is used by many groups, inside and outside of Scouting, and in and out of Cambridgeshire. A few groups have their own web pages about Abington, with pictures of camps: see, for example, the 11th/9th Cambridge, and the 28th Cambridge.
- The proposed sale is mentioned in the last couple of editions of The Abingtons and Hildersham News.
I should like to make it clear that the present website isn't representing, or run on behalf of, Cambridgeshire County Scout Council itself. I used to run the official campsite website at this address, but what you're now reading is unofficial. It's possible that the information that I used to host here will be available on the Scout County's website at some point.
Matthew Smith (email@example.com)