ANGRY outdoor activity enthusiasts have slammed Glasgow City Council’s decision to close much-loved education centre Blairvadach.

The decision to close the training facility which has been operating for 46 years in Helensburgh came just hours after the centre posted a recruitment advert for sessional staff.

A petition lobbying Glasgow City Council to “Save Blairvadach Outdoor Education Centre” was launched yesterday (Friday) morning and within six hours had more than 1300 signatures.  

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It states: “Since 1974 Blairvadach has been a sector leading provider of quality outdoor education and training.

“It has specialised in the personal development of the Glasgow’s young people through outdoor and adventurous education.

“Until now, Glasgow City Council has enabled inclusive access to an outdoor education residential through their ownership of Blairvadach.

“Pupils whose schools visit other outdoor centres need to pay a great deal more - not possible for many of Glasgow’s families who struggle with finances.

“We need to keep Blairvadach Outdoor Education Centre to keep the inclusive access to a outdoor education residential experience for all of Glasgow’s young people.”

Glasgow Times:

Last year SNP members accused Labour councillor Eva Murray and her colleagues of scaremongering the public by claiming Blairvadach was under threat.

They assured members at last years budget this was not the case.

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But Thursday’s budget meeting heard SNP councillor Richard Bell say he wanted to be in "a position not to close Blairvadach but would much rather see teachers in the classroom.”

The comment was in response to Labour’s proposal to realign the pupil teacher ratio to the national average but keep the outdoor centre.

Mr Bell said: “None of us came into politics to cut services and I am sure every single councillor in this chamber wants to do the best for each of their communities.

“I am somewhat shocked at some of the proposals. I believe that one of the best gifts that we can give to the people of Glasgow is a decent education.

“There is a proposal within the Labour budget that says you would realign pupil teacher ratios in line with the national average.

“That means removing over 200 teachers from this city. How can we possibly say that is a good way to protect and improve our education services within the city.

“To take away teacher numbers is nothing short of disgraceful.”

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Labour argued that their proposal would have kept teacher numbers at the same level next year.

Councillor Aileen McKenzie said she was disappointed with the decisions made regarding the budget.

Ms McKenzie said:"I'm underwhelmed in every budget presented and I would not say that any of them were acceptable but it is something that we have to live with.

"Yes teacher numbers would go down but that would be through a three-year natural attrition and nobody would be sacked but no-one would be replaced either."

Following the debate Labour vowed to fight the closure of Blairvadach so that it would remain open for generations to come.

Glasgow Times:

Labour councillor Soryia Siddique said: "There has been concern and disappointment from parents and staff on the SNP and Green decision to close Blairvadach Outdoor Education Centre. 

"The life changing experience of outdoor learning in building resilience, confidence and jobs have been cut. Glasgow Labour will fight for Blairvadach Outdoor Education Centre to remain open for generations to come."

Trade union Unison is also planning to campaign to stop the closure of Blairvadach.

While several union members are staff at the centre, Unison said closure would be detrimental to the overall education experience offered to children.

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A spokesman said: “Blairvadach has a history in Glasgow’s schools. It plays a crucial role in the life of young people particularly from the most deprived areas.”

Former sports coaching student and support worker Callum Whitelock agreed that it would be a great loss.

He said: "Blairvadach not only provides jobs and livelihoods for their employees but it is also a place that provides an education to people about outdoor activities and etiquette.

"It is for everyone whether you are young, old, a beginner or a professional, and it would be a great loss not only for Glasgow but for the towns of Rhu and Helensburgh."