North West Wales

Protests about Plas Y Brenin ski slope closure, Capel Curig

A group of children and parents have set up camp at a mountaineering centre in Conwy to protest at plans to close a dry ski-slope.

About 20 protesters representing the North Wales Snowsports Club camped overnight at Plas Y Brenin (PYB), Capel Curig.

The centre was earmarked for closure at the end of April but has closed early.

PYB chief executive Martin Doyle said the facility had reached the end of its life and closed early due to damage.

He added: "Following bad weather last month, holes appeared in the surface and the facility has been out of action since.

"The facility has reached the end of its working life.

"A replacement was needed but due to usage and demand a business case couldn't be made.

"A new slope would have cost around £600,000 to 700,000.

"The decision to close the facility was made jointly with Sport England and the Mountain Training Trust who run the site.

"The decision was forecasted in May 2010 with a potential closing date in 2012."

Alice Douglas, one of the protest organisers, said the protest was peaceful, and some children had said they intended to camp next week, despite being back at school.

Tents have been pitched around the dry ski slope.

The children say they have been protesting for months through the North Wales Snowsports Club (NWSC), which is based at the slope.

However, they claim their concerns fell "on deaf ears," and decided to "copy the Occupy Movement and stage a mini St Paul's protest".

Image caption The slope suffered damage due to bad weather last month

The protesters claim the closure is due to a lack of funding by Sport England.

One local protestor, Ciara, 14, said: "All the money for sports resources in this country is going to the Olympics and it's crippling local facilities."

Charles Johnston, Sport England property director, said the organisation had provided PYB with £1.5m of capital investment and £640,000 a year for the last five years to keep it operating.

He said the number of monthly users at the ski slope had "fallen as low as 30," adding: "We have been consulting on the future of the site for two years and have looked a number of options to keep it open.

"However, none can be justified given the small number of users.

"Any third party operator who would want to run the slope would need to raise significant capital investment to bring the facility up to standard but without a huge increase in users the facility would still not be sustainable."

He said some users had been given help to relocate to Llandudno ski slope, and help had been offered to NWSC.

PYB is listed as an official pre-Olympic training camp for mountain biking for London 2012, but has had no involvement with the Olympics.

It is owned by Sports Council Trust Company (SCTC) and managed by Mountain Training Trust, a registered charity.

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