Petition to save Holt Hall from closure passes 4,000 signatures

Norfolk County Council has said it can no longer afford to run Holt Hall.

Norfolk County Council has said it can no longer afford to run Holt Hall. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

A petition to save outdoor learning services at Holt Hall has received thousands of signatures in less than three weeks.

In October, Norfolk County Council said it could no longer afford to run Holt Hall and planned to close the centre.

The news was met with an outcry, with the former head of the Hall warning that if the “much-loved” outdoor education centre closed the county’s children will be the “real losers”.

The county council has been consulting with staff over the future of the services it runs from the hall - which celebrated its 70th anniversary earlier this year.

It insisted a final decision on the future of the hall was yet to be made, despite John Fisher, cabinet member for children’s services, previously saying retaining services there would mean “the potential loss of other vital services for children”.

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Now a petition set up by Brian Donovan to save the Hall has gained more than 4,000 signatures, and is moving towards the 4,500 it needs for the issue to be debated by councillors.

The petition states: “For 70 years, children have learned and appreciated the environment, outdoor living, nature, and working together at Holt Hall. They have developed self-confidence and increased wellbeing, during their three day residential or day visits.

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“We want this important service to continue.”

The petition also criticises the council’s consultation process. It states: “We have tried to engage NCC in discussions with suggestions for increasing revenue, but they will only answer through the ‘consultation process’. The ‘consultation’ process does not feel open and genuine, and allows the council to reject or ignore feedback.”

Chris Snudden, director for learning and inclusion at NCC, said: “We completely agree that outdoor learning is important for children and young people and part of our proposal is to look at how we can continue to provide support and advice to schools, as well as coordinating and growing provision across the whole county to help Norfolk’s schools access a wider range of outdoor learning opportunities.

“There are many high-quality providers of outdoor education in Norfolk and this proposal means we would be able to support them, rather than compete with them, so that more children across the county can enjoy the benefits of outdoor education.”

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