Notice to end lease at eduction centre amid budget cuts

Archery at Ford Castle.
Archery at Ford Castle.

An outdoor-education centre which was handed a lifeline last year is under threat again despite hopes that it would be in use for ‘at least 20 years’.

Northumberland County Council decided to close Ford Castle in August 2011, but just five months later, it was announced that school-trip provider Chateau Beaumont had joined forces with the council to reopen the centre in April under a new joint venture as Ford Castle Adventure Ltd.

At the time, it was said that the council was aiming to secure the outdoor centre for at least the next 20 years, as well as creating employment opportunities.

But now, budget cuts have taken their toll once again.

A council spokeswoman said: “The council has made every effort to retain a suitable use for the castle, but in facing unprecedented budget challenges, we have had to make a difficult decision to reduce the financial impact for the future.

“We are giving notice on the lease, but have earmarked budget for maintenance and repairs until the lease ends.

“The service previously run at the castle has been making a year-on-year loss, which is not sustainable given council budgets.

“The council does not currently provide any services at the castle so no services to the public will be affected.”

However, Ben Wire, from Ford Castle Adventure Ltd, said: “We have only recently learned about this development, but will continue to successfully operate the castle as a schools’ residential centre through the three-year notice period given by the council.

“We remain committed to the long-term future of Ford Castle and will investigate all opportunities to continue beyond the notice period.”