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Death knell sounds for outward bound centre in rural Teesdale
THE death knell has sounded for an outward bound centre which has given thousands of children a taste of life in rural County Durham.
Durham County Council confirmed this week the Middleton Centre for Outdoor Learning, in Bridge Street, Middleton-in-Teesdale, will close for good on March 31.
Officials say the council simply cannot afford the £77,000 annual subsidy it pays to keep the centre open.
Repairs are also needed to the building's heating system, roof and kitchen.
A campaign to persuade officials to think again was launched during a consultation process in January, and alternatives to closure were put forward. However, no suitable arrangements could be made.
Phil Hodgson, support and development manager at Durham County Council, said: “During a consultation on the proposals we received eight responses from members of the public.
“We also wrote to schools and other interested parties to seek their views.
“Four schools wrote letters in support of keeping the centre open and some schools discussed the possibility of providing interim funding themselves. However, this would not have been sufficient to keep the centre open.”
The centre has accommodation for 38 youngsters and up to six members of staff to use as a base for activities such as moorland habitat studies, lead mining trail walking, navigation and orienteering.
Adam Hearn, who runs the Kingsway Adventure Centre, in Middleton-in-Teesdale, said its closure was a major blow to the village, but there was nothing more that could be done.
He said: “It's going to be a loss in terms of employment and also income for the local shops as all the children who have come would go and do their shopping and buy their souvenirs locally.
“It is also a huge loss to the children who will not not get the benefit of coming to Middleton-in-Teesdale.”