CAMPAIGNERS will use people power to lobby councillors and rally schools to support parties bidding to run Braeside and Oxenwood.

Speaking following the council’s vote to keep the centres running until Christmas while they investigate four bids, supporter Bill Yates, from Little Bedwyn, said: “We will look at all the opportunities to support and back the interested parties, whether that involves lobbying Cllr Mayes or speaking to headteachers.”

Of the four interested parties, Devizes charity Community First has submitted a business case to take over the running of Oxenwood, near Marlborough.

However, supporters of the two centres who had hoped to watch councillors discussing the stay of execution were frustrated on Tuesday, as the meeting was not held at County Hall in Trowbridge and so was not live streamed.

BRAESIDE and Oxenwood will stay open until the end of the year while business cases are developed by four parties interested in taking over the running of the sites.Wiltshire Council confirmed that it would only consider proposals by charity and private sectors bidding to operate the sites as children’s provision.The extension for approved at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday (June 12) held in Salisbury to mark 100 days since the nerve agent attack in the city. However it meant that residents watching the live stream were unable to see the debate unfold as no camera facilities were on offer.Petitioner Lucy Gomes was unable to watch the live stream and said: “I got a message from other campaigners letting me know the council had changed the venue and so we could not watch.

“If it had been available I would definitely have watched, so would many other people. We have been left completely in the dark as to what happened.”

A spokesman for Wiltshire Council confirmed that no webcast had been available as the meeting was held in Salisbury to mark 100 days since the nerve agent attack. A Wiltshire Council spokesman said: “The meeting was held in Salisbury to mark 100 days since the Salisbury incident and we do move to other locations where possible particularly when there are items on the agenda from a specific area.

“Unfortunately not all our venues have the technology for webcast facilities for those who can’t attend. The minutes of the meeting will be shared and published online.The meeting details were on the council website when the agenda was published on 4 June,” he said.

Following the meeting the cabinet was accused of paying lip service to their commitment to use ‘every best effort’ to keep the centres open, by refusing to keep them going until summer 2019 to honour bookings made by schools.

Some schools have already cancelled bookings for September, because the closure deadline had been set at August 31 and was only extended until December at Tuesday’s keeping the centres running until the end of the year could cost an extra £250k. and Lib Dem Cllr Jon Hubbard said: “By closing the centres in the winter they are making these businesses seem as unattractive as possible. If they were to keep the centres open until next summer the council would be unlikely to face these costs because the centres will be making money when they are at their busiest.”

Cllr Phillip Whitehead replied: “We will not extend further, we have already extended. Wiltshire council is not in the position to run outdoors provision in this manner we are happy to work with third parties and we have extended the time to allow that. They will now do their due diligence based on this.”

Chair of managers at Braeside Dave Borrie said: “Wiltshire Council now looks really stupid because of this behaviour. Schools have already cancelled their trips for September because of the uncertainty caused. If I were a head that would be exactly what I was doing.”

Cabinet member for children’s services Cllr Laura Mayes said: “The centres will remain open for business until the end of the year while we carefully scrutinise these expressions of interest to see if they are viable for the longer term. I fully support the benefits of outdoor education, however, we are not the right body to run these centres.”

As a council we need to focus our priorities on funding for support for our vulnerable children and investing in our education priorities. The decision to dispose of Braeside and Oxenwood was not taken lightly and I know best efforts will be made as the market testing is carried out on the future possibilities for the sites.”