Plans to develop council-run centre at Grafham Water revealed

Grafham Water, near Perry. Picture: ANGLIAN WATER

Grafham Water, near Perry. Picture: ANGLIAN WATER - Credit: Archant

Ambitious new plans to develop Cambridgeshire County Council’s outdoor centres, including the site at Grafham Water, are being developed, but measures will be taken to reduce subsidies and find a position of financial stability.

Members of the council's commercial and investment committee agreed to retain all three Cambridgeshire Outdoors centres, at Grafham, Stibbington and Burwell, which had question-marks over their futures.

The plans for Cambridgeshire Outdoors are being developed to ensure that the centres offer affordable, high quality outdoor and environmental education.

Cllr Simon Bywater, chairman of the children and young people committee and member lead for the project, said: "We know that the centres offer life enhancing experiences for many children and young people from Cambridgeshire and beyond.

"For example, at a recent event I attended, a Year 6 pupil at Gamlingay Village Primary said: 'So as my chapter in this school comes to an end, I have been thinking about some of my most memorable moments - going to Grafham Water because it was our first overnight school trip.

'There were some exhilarating activities like being blindfolded for an obstacle course and boat sailing',".

Councillor Bywater added: "I'm looking forward to working with the Cambridgeshire Outdoors teams to continue to build the drive and ambition to move to a position of financial stability, and also to enhance the social value by ensuring that they provide opportunities for all children, including children in care and children with disabilities.

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"With their focus on environmental education and outdoor exercise the centres also have the potential to make a greater contribution to our wider ambitions to tackle climate change, and promote healthy lifestyles."

The council's three outdoor learning centres, Grafham Water, Cambridgeshire Environmental Education Service (CEES) at Stibbington and Burwell House, which offer day and residential visits, adventurous and curriculum-based activity courses, outreach services and conference facilities.

A number of different options have been considered for the future management of the sites to ensure that they remain viable in the long term, continuing to improve outcomes for the children and young people from Cambridgeshire and beyond.

The committee considered a recommendation that the authority should retain all three centres and that business improvement and sales and marketing plans should be developed to enhance and develop the work of the sites.

The council said growing awareness of environmental issues, such as climate change, also offered an opportunity to develop products with practical experiences that complement the work being undertaken within schools.

Cllr Bywater said an extensive review of Cambridgeshire Outdoors confirmed that the service was highly valued.

"However, we do need to reduce subsidies for the centres and to move to a position of financial stability and will be putting together a package of investment to carry out some urgent repairs and to better market and promote the sites," he said.

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