A ‘hands off’ Bushmills Outdoor Education Centre warning has been issued ahead of publication of a services review by the Education Authority.
Consultation on the “effective use” of outdoor education centres and Youth Service resources commences this Monday.
And in advance of this, TUV Alderman Sharon McKillop spelled out the role played in the community by the Bushmills facility amid concern it could be negatively impacted.
The Causeway Coast and Glens Council member said: “Closing Bushmills Education Centre would be a seriously retrograde step. Outdoor educational centres are important for young people not just when it comes to their health and physical activity but also contact with nature.
“Any decision to close the centre will adversely affect the very communities government claims it is most keen on helping.
“Being sited close to the Giant’s Causeway world heritage site Bushmills is an ideal location for an outdoor education centre. I strongly believe it should be retained.
“Importantly, it will obviously impact on the local people employed there and the local schools and community groups which utilise the centre.”
The multi-purpose site on the outskirts of Bushmills offers a variety of programmes and resources in the field of outdoor education.
Alderman McKillop added: “If there is a sustainability issue I believe opening the centre to tourists and other groups should be considered.”
In repsonse, the Education Authortiy said it would be inappropriate to comment on the recommendations made in advance of the publication of the review.
An Education Authority spokesperson said: “The purpose of this review was to ensure the effective use of outdoor education centres and Youth Service resources.
“It also aimed to identify areas of good practice as well as areas for improvement and make recommendations for future delivery of the service linked to the Youth Service’s Priorities for Youth Policy.
“As part of the review, a number of strategic and operational recommendations have been made.
“These will be subject to a twelve-week consultation commencing on 14 November 2016.”