County Council withdraws Cuffley Camp funding
Danny Loo Photography 2017
The county council made the final decision to withdraw its funding for Cuffley Camp at a meeting yesterday.
Hertfordshire County Council decided earlier this month to terminate the lease for Cuffley Camp but opposition councillors called in the decision by the council’s Conservative cabinet to terminate the lease.
As a result of the decision being called in, a special meeting was held of the Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
Despite many objections raised by opposition members and a petition gaining 9,000 signatures, Conservative councillors voted to let the closure go ahead, endorsing the Cabinet’s original decision to close the camp.
Lib Dem councillor Stephen Giles-Medhurst argued that the Cabinet had failed in its duty to give full and proper consideration to the facts of the decision.
Mr Giles-Medhurst said: “Clearly the Conservatives went into this important review meeting with their minds already made up.
“The leader of the council was briefing the press last week that the lease would be withdrawn irrespective of the forthcoming review.
“This heartless pre-determination is disappointing and concerning, particularly as it was made clear in yesterday’s review that not all the information was available to the council and cabinet at the time the decision was made.
“Over 9,000 people who signed a petition to save the camp have had their views ignored amidst legitimate concerns raised by us as the official opposition about a deeply flawed and rushed decision-making process.
“The council will now pay an eye-watering sum to get out of Cuffley Camp, leaving thousands of local school children without a much-loved facility.
“It’s deeply saddening.”
David Williams, leader of Hertfordshire County Council, said: “We understand and share residents’ concern about the future of this much-loved outdoor camping centre.
“However, Cabinet agreed that Hertfordshire County Council would negotiate with the landlord to withdraw from its lease at Cuffley Camp.
“We welcome the scrutiny of this decision at the meeting yesterday and are pleased that our decision was upheld.
“Following a review of Cuffley Camp’s sustainability as a self-financing facility operated by the County Council, it was agreed that we cannot maintain the levels of investment required to bring the camp up to the standards needed to compete with alternative providers and offer a compelling service for the future.
“Such investment would not be the best use of taxpayers’ money.
“We understand that the landlord’s intention is to continue to operate Cuffley Camp as an outdoor education centre with an alternative provider.
“We support this and will continue discussions with the landlord and the promotion of the facility to our schools across Hertfordshire.”