‘Prepared’ Scouts take changes in their stride

THEIR motto urges them to 'Be prepared'.

So when Lowestoft Scouts faced a financial hurdle and a diary dilemma while planning their traditional St George's Day parade, they put that famous adage to test.

The annual march through the town should have been held on the Sunday closest to St George's Day, but because April 24 clashed with Easter Sunday, it had to be moved forward a week.

Members of Lowestoft and District Scout Association took the move in their stride – and also earned their badges for improvisation by overcoming a first time funding obstacle to parade for their patron saint.

Normally, the annual parade assembles and starts at Yarmouth Road and Royal Avenue. However, this year's event had to be shortened after organisers were told they had to pay at least �770 to Suffolk County Council to have Yarmouth Road closed off to traffic so the parade could go along the A12.

The Scout Association decided not to pay the fee and opted to downsize its parade.

Instead, the parade formed up at the eastern end of St. Margaret's Road and crossed Park Road to St Margaret's Church.

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Although it was smaller than usual, it was still an impressive sight as about 400 people still took part.

At the church, the service was held by the Rev Michael Asquith and the Rev Roger Key.

The salute was taken by the entrance to Poplars School by Waveney MP Peter Aldous, along with the Scouts' assistant county commissioner Brian Roe; Lowestoft district commissioner Peter Jarvis; district chairman Brian Everett, and Girl Guides' divisional representative Wendy Boyce.

Because of the change to the route, the parade was about 10 minutes shorter than previous years.

However, the large crowds watching Sunday's parade in sunny weather did not seem to mind in the slightest.

Mr Jarvis said: 'The organisation of the parade was more than challenging than in previous years as for the first time this year we were governed by the law covering temporary road closures.

'It did mean that we had to shorten the length of this year's parade.'

The �770 fee was required by the county council because, being part of the A12, Yarmouth Road is classified as a highway. A �150 fee had to be paid Waveney District Council to close the other roads but this was paid by a generous third party.

Mr Jarvis thanked district council staff for their help in securing road closure notices and the support of councillors Bruce Provan and Mary Rudd.

The Scout Association also had to marshal the parade after police declined to carry out the safety function. However, Mr Jarvis said he was grateful to the police on the advice they had provided.

The changes to the parade follow the decision by organisers Lowestoft Carnival to cancel this year's main procession because of the road closure and stewarding fees.