Anger after Warwickshire County Council confirms the closure of the much-loved Marle Hall
Thousands of people signed a petition to save the residential centre in North Wales that has provided a service to school pupils of Warwickshire over many years
Campaigners have reacted with anger at the news that Marle Hall will be closed.
The residential centre in North Wales has provided a service to school pupils of Warwickshire over many years and a petition to save it attracted thousands of signatures.
But Warwickshire County Council, who owns the property, confirmed that it will go ahead with its closure.
The council said it the decision was not taken lightly and that Marle Hall had not covered its costs of operation for some time.
But some councillors, as well as Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western, said the council had let the hall fall into a neglected state.
“Marle Hall has closed because it has been run down and neglected over many years by its owner Warwickshire County Council," said Mr Western.
“Council leaders are using the facility’s high maintenance costs to justify its closure – and to exonerate themselves of any blame.
“But the council should have acted years ago to maintain properly what has always been an invaluable resource for our county’s school children.
“It allowed the building to fall into disrepair, failed to market the facility effectively and opted against exploring options to make it accessible for disabled people.
“Marle Hall provided children with a chance to visit beautiful landscapes and enjoy unforgettable adventures that many may never be lucky enough to experience again.
“And this year we should have been celebrating its 50th anniversary, not mourning its closure.
“When September comes, I hope people remember where the blame lies.”
Local Liberal Democrat councillors have also expressed their concern over the decision.
Cllr Bill Gifford said: "The Liberal Democrat Group on the county council did call in the decision, as the Cabinet had ignored the 7,000 strong petition to keep Marle Hall open and examine the business case put forward by those who wanted Marle Hall to continue. Sadly, the decision remained to close Marle Hall.
"The Liberal Democrats were hoping that the much loved venue in North Wales, that has welcomed generations of Warwickshire students to explore the Welsh countryside, experience courses from biology, art, climbing and much more, could find a way forward.
"It is indeed regrettable that Marle Hall did not get the necessary maintenance and investment by the county council over recent years."
Cllr Jenny Fradgley said: “The Liberal Democrats will try and ensure that the county council keeps to its promise that arrangements will be made to accommodate parties booked in other venues, and we hope that in future the county council will help schools to find new providers for similar residential courses that are so important for personal development.”
Campaigners from the Save Marle Hall team have put out a statement, which reads: "Just as teachers settle into the summer break after one of the most challenging years for schools, teachers and our young people, Warwickshire County Council (WCC), behind the shield of email, inform us that they will close Marle Hall and cancel all courses.
"This has left many schools unable to find a suitable provider within the timescale and expect us to work in our holidays to do so. We are concerned the list of other providers that WCC will share does not give any indication on the suitability of providers, has not been quality assured and does not state if our children will be given the same high quality experiences and learning outcomes that they receive at Marle Hall.
"We have been left to inform our parents and now our children are understandably upset. WCC provided the wording to email parents to inform them with, thus proving the portfolio holder for Education, Cllr Jeff Morgan, and Assistant Director for Education, Ian Budd, think we are inept as school leaders.
"Marle Hall is an excellent centre, the facility is in excellent condition, and the staff provide a superior service to the children of Warwickshire and now councillors and officers have ripped that away forever.
"If we look at the money WCC councillors and officers are currently ploughing into other projects, Marle Hall costs a pittance yet the social value of such experiences for our children are priceless.
"Cllr Jeff Morgan has stated ‘this decision does not change our commitment to outdoor education at all’ but the closure leaves Warwickshire children with nothing. Kingsbury water Park is closed, the D of E service is closed, and the youth service has been decimated.
"We now call on Warwickshire County Council, Cllr Seccombe and Cllr Morgan to share all information publicly regarding the closure including minutes of meetings and associated documents so the public can see the truth about what has gone on and those responsible be held to account."
We contacted Warwickshire County Council for comment but have not had a reply.