The battle to save Wiltshire Council’s Outdoor Education Centres at Braeside and Oxenwood has taken a step forward.
Wiltshire Council has announced that it has received “expressions of interest” in running the Centres. This comes after a determined public fight to save them and repeated interventions by Lib Dem Councillors to that end. These were to get the original “behind closed doors” ruling Conservative Cabinet closure decision reviewed which was lost despite a back bench Conservative revolt.
We then got acceptance of our proposals to put back the closure date, continue to accept bookings at the Centres, use the Council’s best endeavours to save them and to value their social contribution at the same level as their economic worth.
These efforts have led to the “expressions of interest” now received after none came in to the previous deadline. Now the Cabinet have a decision to make.
I serve on the Council’s Audit Committee, I know very well the cash pressures the Council faces. But this decisionmust put the interests of current and future generations of our young people before the interests of companies who want to run these Centres for profit.
This means that if Wiltshire Council will not run Braeside and Oxenwood then a “not for profit” charity or community organisation should. That is the path the Cabinet should go down.
Cllr Ian Thorn,
Lib Dem Group Leader and Leader of the Opposition on Wiltshire Council