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Thaw in the St Ives St John's Ambulance premises row

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: September 02, 2013

Thaw in the St Ives St John's Ambulance premises row

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ST JOHN'S Ambulance has revealed it has agreed on a home for the St Ives unit that should calm a war of words that has raged between paid officers in Exeter and local volunteers.

St Ives' St John Ambulance Division has been a mainstay of the community for years but at one point this year well-respected local volunteers threatened to fold the group.

The stand-off came after regional management refused to agree a new lease with Cornwall Council over their old hall in St Andrew's Street.

Local volunteers – who masterminded a £13,000 fundraising effort to renovate the hall – were outraged and refused a new home on the edge of town at St John's in the Field.

Icy relations between paid officers and volunteers escalated when the St Ives group said they would fold if they did not get suitable accommodation – and were told to go ahead.

Each cadet at the St Ives division, which meets twice a week so adult volunteers and the well-established Badgers junior group can hone and pass on their first aid skills, received a letter telling them to resign if they wanted.

A second letter followed designed to build bridges with local members, and discussions were resumed on where to house the group.

Now the charity's regional HQ have announced a compromise after Cornwall Council agreed what St John Ambulance called "favourable terms" on a temporary lease at the old lifeguard station for 12 months.

It is understood this was one of the alternative options favoured by the local volunteers – who have remained tight-lipped throughout the saga – over a move to St John's in the Field.

St John Ambulance's Exeter-based regional logistics and facilities manager Michael Neve said: "I am delighted that we've reached an agreement to lease this building and given ourselves more time to work towards finding a permanent home for our volunteers in St Ives.

"As a charity we need to spend the funds we raise as efficiently as possible, including avoiding complex and expensive property arrangements, so I am grateful to Cornwall Council for their help in this matter.

"Our priority now is to find a proper, accessible place where the town's volunteers can practise first aid and train others in lifesaving skills.

"The unit currently meets at least two evenings a week and if anyone in the town knows of premises in St Ives that might be suitable, I would be very happy to hear from them."

Michael Neve can be contacted on 01392 822635, or by e-mailing michael.neve@sja.org.uk

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