Braexit delayed until January 2020
Wiltshire Council's decision to close and sell off its outdoor education centres at Braeside in Devizes and Oxenwood near Marlborough was met with a wave of public protest which resulted in delays to the closures and the opening of a bidding process to see if other providers were ready to take them on.
Bids were received from Wiltshire College, Community First (Oxenwood), Adventure Learning Foundation (ALF) , Magdalen Environmental Trust, Classes Abroad, and Oxenwood Community Interest Company.
A task group set up to look at the closures recommended that the cabinet should prioritise opening negotiations as soon as possible with Community First for Oxenwood, and with Wiltshire College for Braeside, whilst also considering the ALF and Classes Abroad options.
Community First propose to continue outdoor education at Oxenwood, integrating Community First's established work with Wiltshire young people and youth groups.
The Wiltshire College proposal is for the transfer of Braeside to the Wiltshire College site at Lackham where a new 120 bed outdoor education facility would be created. The provision would be a comprehensive range of outdoor education facilities and opportunities taking advantage of the location next to the river Avon and the agricultural college facilities.
The officer recommendation to cabinet, which takes into account the need to give staff clarity on the future, and the continuing financial risk to WC, is that Cabinet defers the closure of Braeside and Oxenwood outdoor education sites until at the latest January 2020 to allow for negotiations and successful transfer arrangements. Negotiations are to be progressed quickly with Wiltshire College and Community First but other bidders are not precluded at this stage in case such negotiations do not come to fruition.
So although this is still work in progress, it could, by saving Oxenwood and seeing a new facility for outdoor education in the county, represent a good outcome compared with the original proposal.