A POPULAR Warwickshire County Council-owned outdoor learning centre is set to close later this year despite fierce opposition.
The Marle Hall Centre for Outdoor Learning in north Wales has been owned by the authority since 1971 and used by generations of young people across the county for educational, adventure courses.
It is believed more than 60,000 people have used the 100 bed centre in Llandudno since it opened.
But despite objections following a consultation earlier this year, and a 7,000 strong petition, its closure has been confirmed by the authority.
It claims running the centre is unviable and maintenance too costly.
The council described the centre as ‘much-loved and valued’ and said the decision was not taken lightly.
It says the centre was under-used and competing with some 50 nearby facilities. It estimated costs could spiral to some £850,000 over the next decade.
WCC education spokesman Coun Jeff Morgan said: “We know that many people will be saddened to hear this news, perhaps because they have fond memories of their own experiences at Marle Hall or believe strongly in the role of outdoor education for children. I want to reassure them that we do too, and this decision does not change our commitment to outdoor education at all.
“However, we have a responsibility to make sure we are spending public money wisely and so sometimes have difficult choices to make. Schools are free to choose any provider they like, and the council is under no legal duty to offer an outdoor facility of our own to schools.
“The grade II listed building needs a huge amount of work to bring it up to the standard that visitors expect, to be fully accessible by those with physical disabilities and to be able to operate more efficiently. So reluctantly, I’m afraid we must be led by our heads, and not our hearts.”
The centre is set to close in October.
Payments for existing bookings will be refunded and schools offered support to find an alternative provider.