Towers Outdoor Education Centre 'too expensive' says council leader

Wolverhampton Council leader Ian Brookfield said it was “probably cheaper” to visit Disneyland Paris than the Towers Outdoor Education Centre as he defended plans to close it.

Councillor Ian Brookfield
Councillor Ian Brookfield

Councillor Brookfield made the claim as he called the council-owned centre in Betws-y-Coed “too expensive” for youngsters to use.

But in a Facebook Live question and answer session, the council leader stressed the facility and the attraction, formerly known as Euro Disney, were “not the same”.

He said: “I think it’s too expensive. I think with the parents’ contribution and our contribution of a couple of hundred pound subsidy per child, I think it’s probably cheaper to go to Euro Disney.

“Now, that’s not the same and I’m not trying to be flippant on that, but we’re putting so much resource into that.

“Plus there’s the new outcome regarding the fixing of it, whether that’s £2 million, £1m, half a million pounds, it’s a lot of money and that’s something that we have to balance. We want all our children, not just a small selection, to benefit from outdoor education.”

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge meet mountain rescue personnel at the centre in 2015

It comes after investigations revealed the centre would need £600,000 in work to meet health and safety rules. And a further £1.1m would be needed to refurbish and modernise the centre.

Councillor Brookfield said: “It’s something that’s going to cabinet and you will have read a lot about it – and all credit to the people in the newspapers and on social media.

“Although I’ve not got a local accent I’ve been here 32 years – I’ve been on the council since 1995.

“I remember I was in my 20s and I actually went to the Towers.

“The Towers is and was a fantastic place for our city and it did exactly what it said on the tin.”

The leader, who represents the Fallings Park area, said it was “unfortunate” schoolchildren would be affected by its possible closure.

But he said that only 18 schools, out of around 100 in the city, use the centre.

Councillor Brookfield also pledged to make sure everyone who had booked at the facility, if it closes, would be helped to get away at “no extra cost”.

The centre was temporarily shut last August.

Councillor Louise Miles, cabinet member for resources, said: “We know from the kind of emails, letters and conversations we’ve had with residents how much Towers has meant to them.

“We absolutely understand that, but as Ian has said, we just now want to look at other ways of using the money that’s available to help the young people.”

A final decision on the future of the Towers facility will be made by Wolverhampton Council’s cabinet on Wednesday.

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