AN organisation that finds missing vulnerable people is itself in need of rescuing as the sale of a key council asset looks likely.

Berkshire Lowland Search and Rescue (BLSR) has been based at Easthampstead Park Conference Centre for 30 of its 37 year history, in which time it has helped find countless vulnerable missing people across the county.

Bracknell Forest Council own the Victorian mansion and, while it has not asked the Rescue service to leave, the planned expansion of the Centre's wedding and conference facilities and no lease renewal request from BLSR means it will be homeless from April 2018.

Although no decision has been made about the Peacock Lane building's long-term future, Councillor Peter Heydon, executive member for transformation and finance, confirmed a sell-off had not been discounted.

He said: "The council has been subsidising Easthampstead Park Conference Centre by approximately £250,000 a year for several years, which is unsustainable.

"Our efficiency plan published in 2016 made it clear that we needed to look at reducing this subsidy and so we asked experts to look into options for the site.

"This work, is still ongoing; no decision about its future has been made and will not be made until April 2018 at the earliest.

"Options for the site need to benefit the council, our residents and Easthampstead Park Conference Centre. While it is premature to talk about any possible sale, the council is clear that as a listed building surrounded by ancient woodland there is absolutely no appetite to see it converted into homes."

He went on to say that all current wedding and conference bookings would be honoured to the same standard offered at the moment and that auction firm Christies had been commissioned to look in to options for the site, including research and soft marketing testing.

A decision on the future of Easthampstead Park is expected in April 2018.

In the meantime, BLSR is urgently looking for a new base for its highly trained team.

Chairman Kris Manning said “We are urgently appealing to Berkshire based businesses and anybody else who could potentially provide us with a new base of operations.

"This will ensure that our operational ability to search for vulnerable people such as children and those living with dementia is not affected.

“At a minimum we need a small amount of office space, space to store rescue equipment as well as parking for our three incident response vehicles. The location must have 24/7 access as our callouts can come any time of the day or night.”

Berkshire Lowland Search & Rescue is a charity funded by public donations and grants and relies heavily on the support of the public and business to raise the £20,000 per year just to keep operating.

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