ARDROY outdoor education facility has been saved from permanent closure after a hard-fought campaign by supporters.
Cash-strapped Fife Council withdrew funding earlier this year but more than 7000 people backed efforts to preserve the Argyllshire facility enjoyed by generations of the Kingdom's schoolchildren.
A group of volunteers local to the centre, the AEC Trust, made a bid to take over as operators and after protracted talks with Fife Council an agreement in principle has been reached.
The centre will still close at the end of this month when the council funding runs out but now it is hoped it will be open again before Christmas.
The new operators hope to start fund-raising in Fife to tap into the goodwill expressed towards the centre by children, parents and teachers alike in recent months and ensure the viability of the facility in the long term.
It is also planned to open the centre to adult groups at weekends and at other times when it is not being used by school parties.
Alan Paul, Fife Council corporate asset manager, said, "We've now reached provisional agreement with the proposed AEC Trust to take over the running of Ardroy and we're in ongoing discussions to finalise lease and other contractual arrangements.
"Meanwhile, the council will close the existing outdoor education centre as planned at the end of this month and it will reopen under new management in due course."
The decision is expected to be ratified by councillors on the policy, finance and asset management committee in September.
MSP John Park, a supporter of the 'Save Ardroy' campaign, said, "This is great news.
"Of course, it is sensible to diversify into other markets and use the centre at the weekends but Fife Council should ensure that schools in our area know that Ardroy is open for business and actively encourage them to use it."
Meanwhile, Lochs councillor Alex Rowley is calling for more investment for Lochore Meadows Country Park as had been promised when the plug was pulled on Ardroy.
He said, "I am now focusing on getting further investment to expand the capacity and development of Lochore Meadows and especially to provide accommodation so that Fife youngsters can stay overnight and enjoy these outdoor facilities on their own doorstep."
This article appeared in Dunfermline Press 14 Jul 11
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Jul 26, 19:38