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Better Marketing Needed for East Barnby Outdoor Education Centre

Tuesday, September 28th, 2021 7:06am

By Matthew Pells with additional reporting from Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter

Councillors say the centre at East Barnby near Whitby needs to become self sufficient if it is to survive in the long term.

That's the message from North Yorkshire County Council as it embarks on developing a £400,000 business plan for the outdoor education service in the county.

Councillor Patrick Mulligan, executive member for education and skills at the county council says significant investment is required in the centres at East Barnby and Bewerley Park Centre in Nidderdale.

He says the county's outdoor centres will have to show they can pay their way.

Councillor Mulligan says the authorities two outdoor centres, which have suffered financially during the pandemic, don't currently have any marketing activity.

It comes after the North Yorkshire County Council-owned sites, which have seen generations of schoolchildren take part in trips for over 80 years, were subject to a review launched earlier this year which sparked concerns that it could close permanently.

Councillor Gareth Dadd, the county council’s finance boss and deputy leader, said while the new business plan showed that there are no plans to do this, it did not mean the centre’s future would be a certain one.

He said:

“This is not, and I repeat not, the saving of the outdoor education service. I don’t want anybody to be under the illusion that this is a free-for-all and an open-ended cheque.

“It’s a brave move by this authority. It’s not a statutory service and many authorities have actually closed their facilities.”

The county council had previously warned the centres could become unviable after they closed in March 2020 and were forecast to lose around £1.6m due to the cancellations of school trips during the Covid pandemic.

But talks of mothballing the centres were strongly opposed by pupils, teachers and former staff who voiced their happy memories of visits to the site as part of the review.

 

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