Wilderness campaigners turn to Localism Act in bid to get Mitcheldean centre open
CAMPAIGNERS wanting to save the Wilderness Centre hope to harness new powers to reopen the site.
Protracted talks with the centre’s owners, Gloucestershire County Council, still have not reached a conclusion 18 months after it shut, prompting a change of tactics from Friends of the Wilderness Centre.
They have asked the council to hand them control of the outdoor education site under a transfer of assets agreement in the hope they can get in there and have it open as early as next month.
The site was shut down by the council in August 2011 as part of wide-reaching budget cuts.
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Friends of the Wilderness was initially trying to buy it outright.
Two benefactors have offered to buy the centre on behalf of the group but the Friends want to make sure they own the centre in their name from the start.
In an open letter to the council they said: “Our adopted approach will allow us to control the assets more effectively in the interests of the community and will provide the start-up funding necessary for us to launch operations in the spring of 2013. We would aim to raise the full purchase price by March 2014. However, for our business plan to work we need to start operating out of the centre by March of this year.
“We are writing to ask you to support our efforts by encouraging the county council to pursue any action that can help us take over the running of the Wilderness Centre as soon as possible.”
The plan would still see the Friends ultimately purchase the centre through a community share scheme.
Andrew McCartney, transitional programme director at Gloucestershire County Council, said: “We’re talking to the Friends of the Wilderness Centre and we want to understand more about what their new ideas are.”