AN OUTDOOR education centre is to be closed down as part of cost-cutting measures.

Residents in West Dunbartonshire have reacted angrily to plans to axe the Ardlui Outdoor Education Centre in June.

The council said the centre, which is based 25 miles outside the area in Argyll and Bute, has been struggling financially since 2009, when bosses took over the lease. They said last year alone it lost £274,000.

Three and a half posts will be affected by the closure.

The centre, which provides activities such as mountain biking, abseiling and canoeing, is used by P6 and P7 pupils.

But the council argues that those age groups can benefit from the same outdoor experience at similar centres across the UK.

Ardlui is being marketed by the council for lease to public and private sector organisations.

The closure was agreed as part of the council budget in February which tried to cover a £17million gap caused by reduced funding from the Scottish Government and increasing costs.

Councillor Michelle McGinty, Convener of Educational Services, said: "We know how much fun our P6 and P7 pupils have had at Ardlui so it is sad to have to close the centre.

"The bottom line is that the centre has made big losses every year the council has run it, and due to the reduced funding from the Scottish Government we just can't allow that to continue."

Councillor John Mooney, Depute Convener of Educational Services, added: "Hardly any Councils in Scotland run centres of this kind and that is because it is a real challenge for the public sector to make them work profitably."

On Facebook, residents voiced their unhappiness at the closure.

Janette Wilson said: "That's terrible, it's somewhere for the kids to do affordable school trips and have fun."

Janice Shirkie said: "Such a shame, our youth groups love the centre and we have just used it with 38 young people in January."

Jenni Regan added: "Not ideal but at least there's still Auchengillen, Ardentinny, Lochgoilhead, Arran. Lots of other options. "The money has to come from somewhere."