The decision to halt funding to a popular outdoor children’s camp has been upheld.
Hertfordshire County Council (HCC), following a scrutiny committee meeting, agreed with the initial decision to withdraw from its lease at Cuffley Camp.
It argued that continued investment into the centre would be neither sustainable nor a proper use of taxpayers’ money.
“We understand and share residents’ concern about the future of this much loved outdoor camping centre,” said David Williams, leader of HCC.
“Following a review of Cuffley Camp’s sustainability as a self-financing facility operated by the county council, it was agreed that we cannot maintain the levels of investment required to bring the camp up to the standards needed to compete with alternative providers and offer a compelling service for the future.”
He added that it was pleased to hear of the landlord’s intention to continue to operate the camp with an alternate provider.
“We support this and will continue discussions with the landlord and the promotion of the facility to our schools across Hertfordshire,” he said.
The future of Cuffley Camp has been a fiercely contested point ever since it emerged that the council was considering the withdrawal of its funding.
School, parents and staff who had close connections to the centre had expressed their disappointment at and opposition to the decision and called for reconsideration.
Stephen Giles-Medhurst, leader of the Liberal Democrats at HCC, criticised the council’s approach and accused it of having “already made its mind up” in the run up to the scrutiny meeting.
He said: “This heartless pre-determination is disappointing and concerning, particularly as it was made clear in the review that not all the information was available to the council and cabinet at the time the decision was made.
“Nine thousand people who signed a petition to save the camp have had their views ignored amidst legitimate concerns raised by us as the official opposition about a deeply flawed and rushed decision-making process.
“The council will now pay an eye-watering sum to get out of Cuffley Camp, leaving thousands of local school children without a much-loved facility. It’s deeply saddening.”