OUTDOOR education centres Braeside and Oxenwood are set to stay open until the end of the year while business cases are developed by four parties interested in running the sites.

Wiltshire Council confirmed that it would only consider proposals by charities and businesses set to operate the sites as children’s provisions.

However the cabinet has been accused of not following their commitment to use every best effort to save the provisions in Devizes and Oxenwood by refusing to keep the sites open until next summer in order to honour existing school bookings.

Some schools have cancelled bookings for September after the centre’s future’s were thrown into uncertainty and a closure date was set at August 31.

The council has estimated that keeping the centres running until the end of the year could cost an extra £250k.

Liberal Democrat councillor Jon Hubbard said: “By closing the centres in the winter they are making these businesses seems as unattractive as possible.

“What the council has said today sounds like lip service, there is a social value in outdoor education provision.

“If they were to keep the centres open until next summer the council would be unlikely to face these costs because the centres will be making money when they are at their busiest.”

ADVERTISING inRead invented by Teads John Hawkins of the Outdoor Education Task Force said: “The group was pleased to note the resolution made by the council and welcomes extending the period of time for consultation. It echoes our recommendation made on March 28 to delay the decision to close the centres to allow further research into options.”

Cabinet member for finance cllr Philip Whitehead: “We will not extend further, we have already extended. Wiltshire council is not in the position to run outdoor provision in this manner. We are happy to work with third parties and we have extended the time to allow that. They will now do their due diligence based on this.”

A valuation of both sites will now take place, but cllr Whitehead said that neither site would be put on the open market.

He said: “The centres are not going on the open market, we are establishing their value. We have to be able to justify not getting best value for an asset and we can do that by using their social value.”

Chair of managers at Braeside Dave Borrie said: “Wiltshire Council now look really stupid because of this behaviour. Schools have already cancelled their trips for September because of the uncertainty caused. If I were a head that would be exactly what I was doing.”

Cabinet members voted to keep the sites open until the end of the year during a cabinet meeting held this morning in Salisbury.