Education centre at risk of closing after council removes funding
An education centre where kids are taught about protecting animals and plants is at risk of closure as no one wants to pay for its upkeep.
The Welsh Harp Environmental Education Centre, based near a reservoir in North West London, is looking for someone to run it on a long-term basis amid fears it could be forced to shut down in the near future.
It provides activities for children outside the classroom, where they can get hands on with woodland creatures and learn about the importance of local plant species and water sources. The centre is currently managed by the charity Thames21, which took on responsibility after Brent Council said it could no longer support it financially.
A report presented to the Welsh Harp joint consultative committee at the end of July said Thames21 would continue to provide “some services” for another year while the search for a “longer-term solution” continues. It added Brent Council had been “in discussions” with organisations about whether they could help run the site but, as of yet, there has been nothing concrete confirmed.
Local resident and Green Party member David Stevens said: “I think it is incredibly important, with regards to the climate emergency declared by Brent, that children are educated about the environment and enjoy being in it.
“The Welsh Harp Environment Centre has been supporting this premise for many generations. I myself have done school trips there and so have my own children. Besides, wasn’t it David Attenborough who said that we can’t expect the young to fight to preserve the environment if they haven’t experienced it?”
He added there is clear support from all sides to help save the centre and it was now about putting practical measures in place to achieve this. David said: “What is especially heartening in Brent is the cross-party support for the environment. We may all be political rivals elsewhere, but with regards to green issues, we are all keen to work together.
“The proof in the pudding is that recently there was a meeting concerning the centre which was attended by all four major parties as well as residents and other interested parties. Long may this cross-party effort continue and the centre is saved as a community asset.”
The centre currently provides group sessions for schools and birthday parties. Up to 30 people can take part in two-hour sessions for £130, or four-hour sessions for £230. A “self-directed learning” experience is another option, with visits costing £60 for two hours’ access and £120 for four hours.
A Brent Council spokesperson said: “No decision has been made yet and we are currently considering options for the long term use of the centre so that it can continue to be used for the benefit of the local community.” The Local Democracy Reporting Service has contacted Thames21 for comment.
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