Cuffley Camp: Decision to be put before county council scrutiny committee

PUBLISHED: 15:12 16 November 2017 | UPDATED: 15:38 16 November 2017

Cuffley Camp. Picture: Danny Loo

Cuffley Camp. Picture: Danny Loo

Danny Loo Photography 2017

The decision by Herts County Council to pull its support of Cuffley Camp outdoor education centre could yet be reversed.

Liberal Democrat councillors from Watford, Royston, and St Albans have ‘called in’ the decision by the council’s Conservative cabinet to terminate the lease on the camp.

This means the council’s oversight and scrutiny committee will review the cabinet’s decision in the next two weeks.

The committee could then ask cabinet to change its decision on the facility, located near to Potters Bar.

Lib Dem leader Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst said: “The decision was so disgraceful. With the full implications not being considered, it absolutely must be revisited.

“We spent almost two hours at the resources panel last week and we still could not get to the bottom of what went wrong and why.

“I was horrified to find out senior councillors and officers knew about the lease problems as long ago as January 2016, but had not brought this to the attention of others until November this year.

“Rather than get the camp on a firm footing and make it usable for all children they then just wanted to close it!

“This will potentially deprive tens of thousands of children of valuable outdoor education over the next 15 years.”

Cabinet decided on Monday to terminate the lease on the outdoor education centre because HCC could not maintain the level of investment needed to bring the camp up to standards.

The deputy leader of the council, Harpenden councillor David Williams, said: “Such investment would not be the best use of taxpayers’ money.”

The decision was made in the face of 10,000-strong petition calling for Cuffley Camp to be kept open.

The camp’s landlord is considering reopening the outdoor education centre.

Fellow Lib Dem county councillor Steve Jarvis, who represents Royston West & Rural, said: “The council has failed to consider any option to maintain the lease to keep the camp open until the freeholders of the site secured an alternative and clearly better run long-term outdoor use for young people.

“That is totally shameful and it is what they should have been doing for the last 18 months.”

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