THE FUTURE of South Cerney Outdoor Education Centre has been secured.

Gloucestershire County Council’s Conservative-run cabinet has approved a bid for the centre by education, employment and training service provider Prospects Services Ltd.

The centre at Lake 12 of Cotswold Water Park was put up for sale in September last year, prompting concerns that it would be lost as an educational facility.

However, today’s decision has secured the facility for the future.

Prospects, which has taken on a 125-year lease of the site, will invest an extra £500,000 into the site to improve the facilities and create a new ‘Green Centre’ – an environmental study centre where visitors can learn about ecology and the environment.

GCC cabinet member for communities Cllr Will Windsor-Clive said the news was a very positive development for young people in Gloucestershire.

“Prospects have an impressive track record in delivering activities for young people and in training and developing them,” he added.

He added the decision had not been financially-driven, but that the interests of the community were paramount.

“Of course, we could have got more money for the site had we not attached conditions to the sale – like preventing housing development and stipulating that it must continue to provide outdoor education,” he said.

“However, we know how valued this facility is and were keen to find a buyer who would improve the site to benefit young people and work closely with current users and the local community to make the business a success.

“We will now look to transfer the business as soon as possible and will support Prospects to develop and promote a summer programme of activities.”

He added that all of the staff currently working at the centre would be able to stay in their jobs once the purchase is completed.

The company’s executive chairman Ray Auvray said he was delighted the company’s bid had been successful. “Prospects plans significant investment to create a better and more widely used facility for the young people of Gloucestershire and beyond,” he said.

“The project builds on our existing partnership with the county council, whom we have worked with for a number of years providing services for young people.”

Prospects and GCC already work together in providing youth support services, as well as careers advice and guidance for young people.