Shropshire outdoor centre gets a reprieve – for now
The future of a seaside outdoor activity centre for Shropshire youngsters has been secured – for the next year at least – following a change of heart from councillors.
But Telford & Wrekin's leisure chief has warned that there might need to be changes in the way the Arthog Outdoor Centre near Barmouth is funded to protect its long-term future.
Cabinet member for leisure Councillor Liz Clare said that in future schools might be asked to contribute more towards its upkeep.
Planned cuts to funding of the Arthog Outdoor Centre near Barmouth were reversed by Telford & Wrekin Council this week.
It had originally been proposed to end the subsidies for deprived children to use the centre, saving around £50,000 a year.
And plans to slash a further £50,000 from the centre's administration budget have also been revised, although it will still be subject to a £17,000 cut.
The revised plans will now go before the council's cabinet next week.
Cabinet member for finance Councillor Bill McClements said the authority had listened to the views of parents and teachers, who told them how Arthog played an important role in the lives of generations of youngsters.
"Arthog has been at the heart of childhood for youngsters from both Telford & Wrekin and Shropshire for many years," he said.
"We responded after getting very strong representations from all the schools in the area about the importance of the centre for young people.
"Even some of the councillors said they went there when they were kids."
Councillor McClements said he believed the £17,000 cut would have little impact on the services that the centre provided.
Councillor Clare, cabinet member for leisure, said budget cuts always meant taking difficult decisions, but she believed it was right to protect the funding for Arthog.
She said: "We have a lot of the children in our schools that don't even know what a holiday is until they go to Arthog
, so I think it is well worth it."
But she said schools may be required to make a bigger contribution to the upkeep of the centre in years to come.
"The decision will protect Arthog for at least another year, but like everything else, it was really difficult," she said. "I think it was right to give it priority, but we don't want to be in the same place this time next year."
Arthog began in the late 1950s as a campsite on Bwlch Gwyn farm near the popular resort of Fairbourne.
The earliest building was a kitchen followed by a toilet block with dormitories, dining room and field study laboratory following in the 1960 and 70s as money became available.
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