THURROCK'S outdoor education centre, Grangewaters, is to be out-sourced.

The future of the South Ockendon-based centre was discussed at Wednesday evening’s meeting of Thurrock Council’s cabinet.

Members were being asked to agree to the start of a procurement process to find organisations willing to run the centre.

Council leader and education portfolio holder, Cllr John Kent, said: “We started asking what its future could and should be back in 2011 and in the past year we as a council have put a great deal of officer and member time into looking at the options, discussing them, and coming up with a proposal.

“Grangewaters is one of those ‘secret jewels’ we have in Thurrock; somewhere that has given great enjoyment and pleasure to thousand upon thousand of local people – young and old.

“With 70 acres of managed and natural woodland, two lakes and open grassland as well as activity areas, accommodation and everything else it boasts, Grangewaters will undoubtedly attract interest from private investors – it just saddens me that we cannot continue subsidising it in these difficult times.”

He added: “However I am concerned that current staff members feel they have been left out and I want to make sure that the option of a staff mutual charitable co-operative is fully investigated.