An influential children’s camp is facing an uncertain future after the county council announced it will be withdrawing its funding. 

Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) made the decision about Cuffley Camp, based in Carbone Hill, at a cabinet meeting yesterday (Monday, November 13).

Nearly 10,000 people signed a petition to keep the outdoor centre for young people open, as it has been used by schools and youth groups from across the county for more than 50 years.

However, HCC had, according to the site’s landlord, “not maintained [it] to an acceptable standard”.

It has also not complied with year on year investment as stipulated in the terms of the lease.

David Williams, deputy leader of Hertfordshire County Council, said the landlord intends to continue running the camp as an outdoor education centre with an alternative provider.

He said: “We understand and share residents’ concern about the future of this much loved outdoor camping centre.

“At the cabinet meeting, it was agreed that following a review of Cuffley Camp’s sustainability as a self-financing facility operated by the county council, we cannot maintain the levels of investment required to bring the camp up to the standards needed to compete with alternative providers and offer a compelling service for the future. Such investment would not be the best use of taxpayers’ money. It was therefore agreed that the county council will negotiate with the landlord to withdraw from its lease at Cuffley Camp.

“We understand that the landlord’s intention is to continue to operate Cuffley Camp as an outdoor education centre with an alternative provider. We support this and will continue discussions with the landlord and the promotion of the facility to our schools across Hertfordshire.”

Peter Hosier, head of service at YC Hertfordshire, explained how it owes just shy of £3,000 following 11 years of non-payment. He confessed that, due to these circumstances, the matter boils down to finance.

A petition was launched by parents, teachers and volunteers to try and persuade the council to keep it open.

Felicity Mckinnon, who supports the campaign, wrote: “My children and their friends have visited many times and have benefited hugely from the experience.

“It has given them confidence, developed their sense for adventure, taught them to respect the natural environment and have learned first-hand about wildlife and how important it is to keep a sense of balance to life.”

Andy Borrows, who has been volunteering at Cuffley for the past four years, added that the camp acts as a “vital haven” for both teachers and pupils.

“Some of the old teaching staff very much enjoy coming back. They know what camping is all about – going out into the woods, cooking with a gas stove fire,” he said.