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Victory cheered by outdoors staff
2:25pm Friday 15th March 2013 in News
THE impact of a decision to place Malvern Hills Outdoor Education Centre into community hands will be felt by generations of young people to come, say delighted campaigners.
Everyone connected with the West Malvern centre has had a spring in their step this week after Worcestershire County Council’s decision to place the facility’s future in the hands of those who care most about it.
Control of the facility, which will be celebrating its centenary next year, will be passing to the new Malvern Community Interest Company (CIC), made up of supporters, councillors and staff, on a 60-year lease for a nominal rent.
Centre manager Nick Hands said the future suddenly felt a lot brighter after having had a “grey cloud hanging over it for many years”.
It has indeed been a torrid few years for the centre and its supporters. Since 2006 it has had to fend off first a cost-cutting bid to close it completely, and then a bid to place it into the hands of a private provider.
While campaigners had no doubt the company would do a good job running the centre, they were concerned that its much-valued educational offering could suffer from being run as a commercial concern.
A key part of the deal with the CIC is that it invests in facilities and guarantees it be kept as an outdoor education base, and local councillor Beverley Nielsen believes this is good news for the county’s current crop of youngsters and future generations to come.
“We’re absolutely delighted and looking to move forward now in the interests of our residents and young people and to continue to fulfil the excellent quality of outdoor education that is already provided,” she said.
“It has been a lot of hard work to get to this stage and we know there is still a lot of work ahead of us. We are embracing it with a great deal of enthusiasm and I want to thank everyone whose support has got us this far.”
Mr Hands said he was “over the moon”. “The staff are really happy as they were all behind it and it is the best result we could have hoped for,” he said. “There has been a grey cloud hanging over the centre for many years but now there is a bright future ahead.”
Coun Adrian Hardman, leader of Worcestershire County Council, hailed the decision.
“It’s not an easy thing to do to get a community solution, but we’ve got it,” he said. Staff will transfer over to the CIC in June.