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COUNCILLORS have urged bosses not to reduce their funding for Carlton Outdoor Education Centre and to find alternative ways to make huge savings required.

Reducing the subsidy, which would involve shortening the number of weeks available at the centre for Hartlepool schools, is one option being considered as Hartlepool Borough Council looks to save between £17m and £20m from its £90m revenue budget over the next four years.

The option was discussed at a meeting of the council’s Adult and Community Services Scrutiny Form yesterday, where members of the public also had a chance to have their say.

Councillor Carl Richardson, Chair of the Forum, expressed his fears that reducing the subsidy may result in children missing out.

Currently 15 of the 30 primary schools in Hartlepool use the outdoor education centre every year.

Coun Richardson said: “Thousands of people have benefited from Carlton camp.

“I’m worried that by reducing the subsidy more schools will pull out.

“I’m of the mind that we need to try and find some alternative and personally I would like to hold off reducing the subsidy for at least 12 months.

“But we may need to get the message across the schools that it’s a case of use it or lose it.”

Councillor Kaylee Sirs, who represents the Foggy Furze ward, added: “At the end of the day I think Carlton is a bit of a haven for children and it seems a shame to take that away from them.”

Another option discussed at yesterday’s meeting was the scrapping of the biennial Maritime Festival.

Ending the festival, which is held at the Maritime Experience, and reducing the Carlton subsidy would save the authority an estimated total of £67,000 every year.

The options and a wider report of the budget will be presented to the council’s cabinet in December.