Wales

Snowdonia centre championed by royals to be sold

Prince William and Catherine visit the Towers Residential Outdoor Education Centre Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited the Towers Outdoor Education Centre in November 2015

An outdoor activity centre in Snowdonia which has been used by generations of West Midlands children is to be sold.

The Towers Outdoor Education Centre at Betws-y-Coed is owned by Wolverhampton City Council but needs £600,000 spending on "immediate repairs".

The centre, which was visited by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2015, has been closed since August after the council halted building work.

Schoolchildren from Wolverhampton have visited the centre for almost 60 years.

"It's a sad moment for us. Many people, including myself, have been to the Towers over the years, but we are where we are," said Wolverhampton City Council leader Ian Brookfield.

"Schools do not want to use it anymore and it's really unfortunate."

Officials told a meeting on Wednesday that just 18 out of 102 schools in the local authority had visited the centre in the last year, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

"The centre simply isn't paying for itself," added city councillor Dr Michael Hardacre.

"There has been a petition to save the centre, which just 404 people have signed.

"We've had six 'very slight' expressions of interest and the best outcome is for one of the interested parties to have some financial back-up for their proposals."

Image copyright Wolverhampton Council
Image caption The centre has served generations of school children from Wolverhampton

The decision follows a campaign to save the centre from the axe, with one teacher describing it as a "vital resource" for young people.

Another teacher, Gareth Hawkins, who is the assistant head at Woodfield Primary School in Wolverhampton, claimed the centre was running at almost full capacity, with charities, social enterprises and pupil referral units also using it.

He said the centre had been "invaluable" for his school over the years.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Prince William took part in activities at the centre in 2015

But Dr Hardacre told fellow councillors: "Unfortunately there's no magic money tree.

"The council has worked hard to make the centre economically viable, but it has had to be subsidised by taxpayers for many years."

The authority's asset management board will now decide the best way to sell off the centre.

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