AN East Lancashire Scout leader has pleaded with people not to have a kneejerk reaction over what to do with a statue of the movement’s founder.

The statue of Robert Baden-Powell stands in Poole in Dorset, where authorities are looking to remove it temporarily due to a potential attack by Black Lives Matters campaigners.

Baden-Powell is alleged to have had links with the Hitler Youth during the Nazi regime in 1930s Germany before his death in 1937.

The statue has now been boarded up.

Blackburn Scouts district commissioner Abid Saleh said: “This is a very serious issue and I understand the concerns, because everyone’s feelings and opinions need to be considered.

“My personal view is that we should listen to what everyone is saying before making any decision to remove it.”

Mr Saleh says it is not what they celebrate or teach their Scout groups.

He said: “We are not celebrating the outdated views he may have had, but Scouting history.

“Here at the Blackburn Scouts we remain inclusive, especially as we are considered a deprivation area.

"Many Scouts already knew about the history of the statue but do not use it as a basis for today’s Scouting lessons."

Mr Saleh added: “A lot of people knew already that he had involvement with these views regarding Hitler Youth and homophobia, but the Scout movement has evolved and moved away from his thinking.

“The statue has never been a focal point for us at the Blackburn Scouts.

“It has never been a secret and most people involved with the Scouts should already be aware anyway.”

When joining the Scouts, the first membership badge is obtained by researching founder Baden-Powell.

Mr Saleh said: “They are very young when they join so they do not know everything about him in terms of his past.

“Things like respect for people regardless of faith or identity, including LGBT groups, are already in the Scouting curriculum.

“So, the children have already had that discussion.”

Mr Saleh looks after 11 groups in Blackburn, approximately 9,000 children and adults.