FEARS for the future of a popular outdoor education centre in Nidderdale have proved unfounded after North Yorkshire County Council announced it will be kept open.
Along with East Barnby near Whitby, Bewerley Park will form the core of the county council’s new outdoor learning service, offering at least one week of outdoor education for every pupil across North Yorkshire during their time at school.
Coun Geoffrey Linehan, chairman of Bewerley Parish Council, said: “We’re delighted. Bewerley Park is a big employer and it brings people into the whole area, so it’s economically vital it stays open.
“It’s also good for our children because it’s not just children from outside the area who use it, it’s children from round here.”
As the council tries to make £69m in savings over the next four years - including £19m from children’s and young people’s services - it has reduced the number of outdoor education centres by half, closing Great Fryupdale on the North York Moors and Humphrey Head in Cumbria.
Coun John Watson, North Yorkshire’s executive member for schools, said: “We have set great store in North Yorkshire by the fact that all the county’s children have had the opportunity while at school of enjoying high quality and adventurous activities through our outdoor education service.
“Although the county council has had to make some very tough budgetary decisions we are pleased that through this partnership with schools we have been able to protect this precious entitlement.”
Existing services receive £1m from the county council, with £2m coming from fees paid by parents. The new scheme, which will come into effect from September, is expected to provide £1.8m from fees and £500,000 from the Schools Forum, which represents schools across North Yorkshire.
Under the current provision, 60 per cent of the county’s schools use the outdoor education service and the council hopes all schools will use the outdoor learning service.
A total of 17 full-time equivalent jobs are expected to be lost, with 48 posts to be maintained. Following a three-month consultation with staff and unions has already been carried out, the council is hoping to reappoint staff to the new structure by September.
A council spokesman said every effort was being made to ensure frontline staff, such as centre teachers and tutors, would be retained - and that job losses would be mostly among senior leadership staff and support staff.