Low Bank Ground in Coniston and Hinning House face uncertain future

TWO Cumbrian outdoor education centres face an uncertain future after a council announced it is currently reviewing the services due to ‘financial pressures.’

Low Bank Ground in Coniston and Hinning House in the Duddon Valley are owned by Wigan Council and are managed by the Brathay Trust.

The council has recently extended its contract with the organisation for another six months but also announced that a six-month review from April has been agreed, when discussions will take place about the future of the services.

Catherine Pealing, Wigan Council’s director of education, said: “For 10 years the Brathay Trust has been supporting children and families in Wigan Borough from Low Bank Ground and Hinning House.

“We recently extended our contract with the trust for an additional six months. We are also in the process of reviewing the existing service and delivery options for the future.”

One option that Brathay Trust is looking into is the purchase of Low Bank Ground to ensure it remains an outdoor education centre.

Godfrey Owen, the Brathay Trust’s chief executive, said: “Because of the financial pressures that local authorities are under there will be a review into the delivery of the centres and the most economic way to run them.

“There’s a review going on that will hopefully mean that the delivery to young people, not just in Wigan, but from lots of different schools across the North West, will continue.

“But there’s a lot of uncertainty.

“For Cumbria the outdoor sector is really important both in terms of employment and the economy.

“We want to protect the 2,500 children annually who come through those centres and those employed with the centres.

“One of the options could be that we can purchase Low Bank Ground and we are looking at support to purchase the centre at Low Bank to keep it as an outdoor centre.

“We’re looking to see if we can raise funds to do that.”

South Lakes MP Tim Farron said it was ‘worrying’ news.

“This is really worrying news but is sadly typical of what is happening to so many outdoor education centres,” he said.

“We are blessed with many amazing outdoor education centres in Cumbria but they have been treated as an afterthought by this Government and now their futures are at serious risk.

“I’ve written to the Prime Minister, the Chancellor and the Education Secretary this week, pleading with them to act and save these centres by giving them a clear roadmap to reopen and providing them with sector specific financial support, like the governments in Northern Ireland and Scotland have done.”

The Westmorland Gazette | News