Longtown Outdoor Education Centre sale agreed by Northamptonshire county council cabinet

Children and young adults in Northamptonshire have been enjoying outdoor activities at Longtown for decades
Children and young adults in Northamptonshire have been enjoying outdoor activities at Longtown for decades

The sale of a county council owned outdoor education centre in the Brecon Beacons has been approved by cabinet.

The Wilson Foundation has agreed to purchase Longtown Outdoor Education Centre from Northamptonshire County Council, which has been the custodian of the 70-bed residential centre since 1964.

The site and surrounding area provide opportunities for a wide range of adventure activities including caving, rock climbing, canoeing, mountain walking, orienteering, gorge walking and stand up paddle boarding.

The council says that the sale of Longtown ensures the continued employment of staff, achieving ‘best value for the council’ and securing the long-term future of the service at a time when the authority is set to make £70m worth of cuts this financial year.

Cabinet member for transport, highways and environment Councillor Ian Morris said: "This is a good news story for us here at the county council, and they are in fairly short supply at this time.

"The Wilson Foundation are a charitable organisation in Northampton who have had 20 years of experience working with the centre.

"Children will be able to benefit from these services and we get a much needed capital receipt."

The move was scrutinised by Labour councillors at Tuesday's cabinet meeting at One Angel Square.

Cllr Winston Strachan questioned whether the council had tested the market to see how much the business and real estate could fetch, while Cllr Mick Scrimshaw criticised the transparency of the officer report, saying: "If I was a cabinet member I would not be able to come to a decision on this."

Councillor Morris responded: "When we were looking at the potential sale we did speak to other parties. This has been an open process. The big driver was that the Wilson Foundation are willing to invest and make it even more renowned than it is.

"As for the sale itself, the figures are commercially sensitive but I can assure you we have achieved its market value."

Council leader Matt Golby also confirmed that cabinet members would be seeking improvements into the quality of officer reports which are given to elected members.

The sale of Longtown is due to be finalised on September 1.