Monmouthshire County Council has fully committed itself to the provision of its Outdoor Adventure Service and has published plans to redevelop and invest in its Gilwern site.

Cabinet members meeting on Wednesday 3rd February agreed a programme to bring the Gilwern site to a required standard costing £560,000. Further work to improve site security and accommodation to maximise bookings will require an additional £300,000 investment.  The council will explore an option to finance the capital project from the sale of its Hilston Park site and meanwhile, it has commissioned consultants to look into potential investment opportunities.

The coronavirus pandemic severely hit Monmouthshire’s Outdoor Adventure Service with the Gilwern site closed in March 2020 and all bookings for the remainder of the academic year cancelled.  The council will now work to provide a timetable to include COVID-safe protocols enabling a return for residential trips and visits.  Its recovery plan will initially seek to reopen the site and prioritise Monmouthshire’s schools to enjoy traditional residential and day bookings.  The second phase will recommence partnership working with other Monmouthshire services such as those delivered by the Children with Disabilities and Additional Learning Needs teams while phase three will focus on a more commercial approach.  This will involve team building days, staff incentive schemes and wellbeing initiatives for external organisations.   The council will consult with residents about its proposed measures soon.

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for MonLife, Councillor Richard John said: “Our ambition to maximise the Gilwern site’s potential with a sustainable service which serves the children and young people of Monmouthshire and remaining fully committed to the provision of outdoor learning and education.  It helps young people with leadership skills, teambuilding and character development, and is particularly beneficial for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds or who are at risk of exclusion from school.”