Kilbowie Outdoor Centre could close in budget cuts

Campaigners are fighting to stop a council axing its residential outdoor centre saying it is the only chance some pupils get to experience confidence-building challenging activities.
Kilbowie Outdoor Education Centre in Oban. Picture: TSPLKilbowie Outdoor Education Centre in Oban. Picture: TSPL
Kilbowie Outdoor Education Centre in Oban. Picture: TSPL

Kilbowie Outdoor Centre in Oban, owned by North Lanarkshire Council, is on a list of “budget-cutting” proposals as the council struggles with cuts to its income.

The centre provides all primary 7 pupils with a residential five days within the Curriculum for Excellence.

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Activities include gorge walking, rock climbing, skiing, hill walking, environmental awareness, orienteering, mountain biking, sailing, canoeing and coasteering.

Pupils attend from cluster primaries and also get the opportunity to form friendships before going to secondary school.

Claire Crothers, whose son attended the centre, wrote on the Save Kilbowie Outdoor Centre Facebook page: “The council’s proposed cuts on the consultation is to close kilbowie outdoor centre, my boy loved this, for some children it’s their first time away from home, they meet new friends they are going to high school with, the opportunity to try loads of new experiences.”

Ashley Jeffrey wrote: “Is it not about time the fat cats at NLC took a wage cut and stop cutting back on the education and experiences our kids are entitled too? Absolutely disgusted at this!”

A member of staff at the centre which has 30 staff and employees a further 15 people in catering and cleaning roles, said: “We were devastated upon learning of the hanging axe when council officials turned up without warning and broke the news. Officials told staff a forthcoming council committee meeting could be the beginning of the end of the centre.”

A council spokesman said: “No decision has been taken on the future of centre, however, it is one savings option that has been offered by senior council staff for consideration.

“Therefore we are carrying out a public consultation, which will help to influence the difficult decisions that will need to be made on savings.

“Since this consultation began, the Scottish Government has corrected an error in its draft budget. On 23 January it gave councils updated figures. This update means the council will be £765,000 worse off than we had envisaged and we require to find £8.923 million of savings from the consultation options rather than £8.158m.”