Thaw in the St Ives St John's Ambulance premises row
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.
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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 email@example.com