Fairlop waters draft email

A draft that may hope if you wish to email or write to the councill or your local MP:

Dear

Regarding the recently announced plan to close the Vision RCL Fairlop Waters outdoor activity centre:

Many youth groups within the borough rely on this centre to provide a large part or even all of their youth activities. Youth group users of the site include schools, sea scout and other scout troops, explorer and cub groups, guide and ranger groups. There is no alternative, accessible facility providing access to the water in this way and, without access to water-based activities, the impact on those youth groups could be even greater than the closing of the outdoor activity site itself. How does one even begin to imagine a Sea Scout group coming out of lockdown to find it has no water facility to continue its outdoor activities? Throughout lockdown such groups have been telling their young people to ‘hang on in there’ and look forward to getting back out there again. How devastating will that conversation be?

A large number of the young people that find their way to activities such as sailing, paddling, paddle-boarding are those that would not actively participate in traditional sports at school such as football, netball, rugby. Many of those young people find at Fairlop a healthy activity that not only helps them in their school years but in very many cases stays with them for life, allowing them to go on and participate stay physically and mentally fit throughout their adult lives. Many of those young people go on as a result themselves to become youth leaders, all over the UK and this in turn helps other young minds and individuals to develop and grow.

In it outrageous that, at the same time that the council is announcing wide reaching plans to grow and invest in the site that one of the unique, existing, core facilities that it provides to young people in the borough is planned to be closed, despite featuring in the very opening shots and throughout the council’s consultation video and material and featuring strongly as an important facility that those consulted wish and need to maintain. Especially since this site has been invested in to ‘replace’ the facilities once provided by Glasbury House Outdoor Education Centre. The site in South Wales was closed by the council in 2015, which had hosted school pupils of Redbridge for residential activities (such as canoeing, kayaking, caving and hiking) since 1963.

The minutes of the 'Place Scrutiny Committee' of 8th December 2020 show plans to roll "the remodelling of Fairlop Outdoor Activity Centre (FOAC) into Enhancement & Development of Fairlop Waters ........ As the consultation and other enhancements are taking place for Fairlop Waters as a whole, it is proposed that the FOAC full cost recovery model be integrated into the wider plans." In layman's terms this means closing a centre that is currently used by many community groups with the likely result being that it will never again reopen. 

The savings generated by this closure are estimated at £90k over two years, and yet the council has approved a spend of £500k on quick developments of the wider Fairlop Waters site and consulting on the project!

With regards to the consultation for the closure of Fairlop Activity Outdoor Centre, why is it that the very users of the activity centre have been unaware of and not included in consultation around the site? As one would expect from the nature of the site, the impact and funding for the site extends far outside its immediate locality, across the whole borough and beyond and yet consultation and notification seems to have centred on local residents only (although they have been very supportive of the growth). To have not consulted with all the youth groups that rely totally on the facility is to have made that consultation not meaningful and totally unrepresentative of the feelings of those who make use of the facilities.

During the three lockdown periods, spaces such as Fairlop and Epping Forest have drawn people out to discover or rediscover the open-air spaces that we are lucky to have. Many of those will continue to adopt a more outdoor and active lifestyle but many have reverted to ‘normal’ life again, as evidenced by the reduction in people using the sites coming out of the first lockdown and these spaces are not at all as active with these temporary users as during the initial shock of lockdown. While it is important to encourage this kind of activity and build it for a healthier community, it is far more important to develop and maintain the facilities that are already the lifeline of so many youth groups in the area already.

Funding of council provisions and facilities has been stretched by Covid but the closure of such a facility is not an acceptable solution. If the council cannot afford to fully fund such an essential facility, it needs to openly and urgently consult with its users and sponsors to find a solution rather than destroying many youth groups promoting active, physical and mental well-being.

I vigorously object to the closure of this key facility.

Yours,

ĉ
Scout Leaders,
14 Feb 2021, 09:32