Wrexham outdoor centre in danger of closing

Reporter:

Phil Robinson

AN OUTDOOR education centre is in danger of closing with the possible loss of 18 jobs.

Bryntysilio residential activity centre on the outskirts of Llangollen has provided a range of activities such as canoeing and rock climbing for generations of Midlands schoolchildren since 1968.

Owned by the Holiday Camp Trust, it is leased and run by Walsall Council, which is now considering pulling the plug on the operation.

Bryntysilio, which has space for 48 young people aged 10-18, costs ratepayers £500,000 a year to run but council chiefs claim it is now “past its sell-by date” and that there are other schools where Walsall youngsters could be sent more cheaply.

Crunch time for the centre is later today when the council’s cabinet is due to decide its fate.

Bryntysilio’s deputy head, Arran Holdsworth, denies there has been a decline in the centre’s popularity.

He said: “We are getting bigger numbers than ever and are fully booked through until July of next year.

“Bookings are healthier than they have ever been.”

Mr Holdsworth said the centre employed 18 people – all Walsall Council employees – who were teaching, office and domestic staff, working full and part-time. Most live in the Llangollen area.

He added: “Essentially if the council withdraws its support the centre would have to close and these people would lose their jobs.

“That would be a big blow to them and to the whole area.

“However, we are still trying to work with the council and there are options we could look at.

“Morale among the staff is still quite good because we have to think positively for the kids coming in here.”

Cllr Anthony Harris, Walsall’s cabinet member for leisure and culture, said: “Sadly we have not been able to attract new schools to make use of Bryntysilio, which was our main goal.

“More school visits mean greater income and this has not been achieved.

“It costs the council taxpayer around half a million pounds to keep it running and for every child who visits Bryntysilio, it costs the council £364.

“It’s past its sell-by date and we know there are other centres more local to Walsall, as well as elsewhere nationally, that we could use where more schoolchildren can visit at a much lower cost.

“No decision has been made yet on the timing of the closure but we will honour the school bookings already made for 2010 and the early part of 2011.”

See full story in the Leader

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