AN ACTIVITY centre could close amid plans to scrap an “unsustainable” service responsible for providing outdoor education in Gwent for nearly 50 years.

Monmouthshire County Council wants to dissolve the Gwent Outdoor Education Service (GOES), which it delivers on behalf of other regional authorities, from March 31, 2019.

“Eroded” finances and mounting maintenance costs has meant the future of the service, formed in 1970, has been brought into question.

Talybont Outdoor Education Centre, which once attracted youngsters from across the UK and further afield, would close under the proposals.

Newport City Council own the former Talybont-on-Usk railway station in the Brecon Beacons but withdrew from GOES in 2013/14.

Since then Blaenau Gwent council has cut its funding by a quarter, with a report suggesting it is a “question of when rather if they withdraw” completely.

Torfaen council stopped paying altogether last year, having slashed funding by more than half in 2016/17, while Monmouthshire’s own funding has also fallen by 30 per cent in six years.

A breakdown of Gwent Outdoor Education Service funding paid by partners since 2012/13. Newport City Council (NCC), Torfaen County Borough Council (TCBC), Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council (BGCBC) and Monmouthshire County Council.

Figures show the GOES has managed small profits in each of the financial years since Newport’s withdrawal but, when coupled with maintenance costs, it has operated a deficit for four out of the last five years.

“The GOES partnership is no longer sustainable in its current form,” the report says.

“Given the reduction in subsidy and the likelihood that it will continue to be eroded, the service now needs to review its operating practices and consider how it can operate in the future.”

If plans are approved, Talybont will close on February 1 leading to the loss of two jobs – the site co-ordinator and cook – and redundancy costs amounting to £30,000.

Monmouthshire council plans to provide Talybont’s services at one of its remaining outdoor education centres at Gilwern and Hilston Park.

Hilston Park

The economy and development scrutiny committee will discuss the proposals at a special meeting on December 18.

A full restructure of the service is also planned while the authority considers transferring its tourism, leisure culture and youth services to a council-controlled trust, MonLife.

If the alternative delivery model is adopted next year, any future decisions regarding the outdoor education service will be scrutinised by both councillors and the MonLife board.