AN OUTDOOR education centre will be closed after Monmouthshire council reluctantly agreed to end a partnership which provided the service.

Monmouthshire County Council agreed to dissolve the Gwent Outdoor Education Service Partnership, which it has led with Newport, Torfaen and Blaenau Gwent councils since 1996.

It comes after funding for the service was withdrawn by Newport and Torfaen councils, while Blaenau Gwent has also indicated it will end its contribution.

The service was set up to provide reduced-cost outdoor education at three centres - Hilston Park near Monmouth, Gilwern Outdoor Centre near Abergavenny and Talybont Outdoor Centre in Powys.

The Talybont site will now close from February 1 and return to Newport City Council for disposal.

Two members of staff, a site co-ordinator and cook, will be made redundant as a result.

The service will continue to be provided by Monmouthshire council alone at Hilston Park and in Gilwern.

Councillors on Monmouthshire council's cabinet agreed to the changes at a meeting on Wednesday but not without some objection.

Council leader Cllr Peter Fox, said it was 'short-sighted' of other authorities to withdraw funding.

He said: "We believe in an outdoor education service and we are going to continue to deliver an outdoor education service.

"I just think it's so short-sighted.

"I know local authorities have their own reasons for doing things but this has been happening for a while where local authorities are pulling out of something so valuable, so that we can enrich a child's life so much, and to withdraw that for the sake of what are relatively small efficiencies in the scale of budgets I can't understand why they do it."

Cllr Richard John, cabinet member for children and young people, said it was "with regret" the proposals were being put forward.

However he said the council remains committed to providing the service from the remaining two centres.

"We hope children and young people can continue to benefit significantly from these two outdoor education centres that we have got on out doorstep," he said.

"But it is sad that this great example of collaboration is ending."

The service partnership will be formally dissolved from March 31, while the Talybont site will be returned to the ownership of Newport council from February 28 after its closure.