A LATE-breaking bid to place the future of Malvern Outdoor Education Centre in the hands of the local community has been launched.

Local councillors, concerned the centre’s offering will suffer from a decision to outsource control to a private provider, are working with staff to help them take control instead.

The previously-threatened centre was spared the axe in September, when the council announced it would be signing it over to private firm Acorn Adventure. But councillors, led by local member Beverley Nielsen, who represents Malvern Trinity, are concerned Malvern’s “exceptionally high standard” educational offering will be lost in the takeover.

They “called in” the decision for investigation and believe the council could be persuaded to consider an alternative bid led by local people.

“There is a concern in the local community that we are about to lose something very special that has served generations of people from Malvern and beyond,” said Coun Nielsen. “In other counties where they are looking to outsource they are actively working with staff to try and help them form local trusts or community interest companies (CICs).

“We should be trying to do the same and work out an alternative that protects the best interests of residents, schools and, particularly, children in Worcestershire.”

Malvern Hills District Councillor Julian Roskams said the centre would be best served in the hands of existing staff.

“They have done a really good job of turning it round and getting it to a financial position where it is breaking even. I think they are better placed than anyone to make a go of it.

“We are having to work quickly but staff are very enthusiastic and we will try to get the bid in within the next couple of weeks.”

West Malvern resident Sarah Rouse is backing the community bid.

“I went there when I was at school. It was far more educational than all those years in the classroom and I still remember it now,” she said.

Coun Jane Potter, county cabinet member for education and skills, said: “We are always looking for the best possible provider for the taxpayer and we are still open to conversations.

“However, we are in advanced negotiations with Acorn Adventure and it is likely that this will move forward reasonably quickly.”