A DECISION to charge Watchet Sea Scouts £100 for paperwork to use the slipway will 'jeopardise the reputation' of West Somerset Council, it was claimed this week.

The volunteer-run Watchet Sea Scouts have been using the harbour slipway for decades, however West Somerset Council has proposed charging £100 to account for proper documentation of the group's insurance.

But mayor of Watchet and district councillor Peter Murphy said the charge should be waived until a lost document from 1948 which supposedly outlines the Sea Scouts right to use the slipway is found.

"The point is obvious, we are going to jeopardise the reputation of the council if we press ahead with this, is it really worth it over £100?" Cllr Murphy said at Thursday's West Somerset Council cabinet meeting.

Cllr Martin Dewdney, portfolio holder for the environment said that the money would not be profit for West Somerset Council, but a reasonable fee to process the correct documentation.

Cllr Chris Morgan added: "We have a responsibility to our taxpayers, we cannot waiver costs of filling out forms and charities should be treated the same."

Sally de Renzy-Martin, chairman of the Watchet Harbour Advisory Board, urged the council to give the sea scouts special consideration given all they do for the young people of West Somerset.

"This would be an unfortunate financial burden for a volunteer group who put on fantastic water-based activities in a robust and safety-conscious environment."

Chairman of the Watchet Sea Scouts explained that with match funding £100 goes a long way with the Sea Scouts.

He explained that as well as money raised through grants and match funding, the Sea Scouts put in a lot of effort packing bags for people at Tesco and washing cars in Swain Street to help raise money.

Funding goes toward insurance, equipment, trips and activities.

Cllr Ian Aldridge was dismayed when seven of the eight cabinet members voted in favour of keeping the charge.

"We have far more money in our reserves than the minimum required, can we really not find £100 to fund this? The Sea Scouts are insured to the hilt - we are charging them for something we do not need."

The matter will go before full council on Wednesday, December 14.