BRAESIDE could be run by Wiltshire College, after it submitted a proposal to take over the children’s outdoor education and conference centre.

The proposal would involve moving Braeside from its current site in Bath Road, Devizes to be run from the Wiltshire College campus at Lackham, which could mean the Devizes site would be sold.

Council members are due to discuss the future of both Braeside and Oxenwood at an upcoming cabinet meeting, expected to be in November. The meeting will analyse four other bids made by organisations and charities, including Wiltshire Wildlife Trust and Youth Action Wiltshire to run either Oxenwood, near Marlborough or Braeside.

Dave Borrie is the chairman of managers at Braeside and described the possible move to Lackham College as a “radical change”.

He said: “Braeside is in a unique position being on the edge of a particularly interesting town with so many varied aspects to study within walking distance.

“You would have to travel at least 30 minutes to get to Devizes. That is a big chunk out of a study day.

Lacock offers a very narrow range of study in comparison based mainly on its historical speciality.

“The Lackham site is very open and is mostly populated with students at A-level age or beyond.

“I’m not sure how comfortable vulnerable ‘Braeside’ students would feel about this or their parents.

“This move would most likely make ‘Braeside’ just a centre for outdoor pursuits in the climbing, orienteering, geography-based activities so that probably a lot of the rich range of activities presently on offer would be lost.

“I’m worried that Wiltshire Council will favour this bid purely due to the fact that they can still put a housing estate on the Braeside site in Devizes and make lots of money.

“How can you avoid this becoming the deciding factor?”

A Wiltshire College spokesman said: “We are unable to comment on this at this time.”

When the announcement that the sites would close was first made in March, staff were told they would would lose their jobs in August, and uncertainty has remained over the future of their roles as the council kept the centres open.

The centres now face closure at the end of the year, but the council has committed to making “every best effort” to keep the centres operating as children’s activity centres.

Former Marlborough resident Ian Marks grew up just a few miles from Oxenwood and visited as a child.

He believes that charities are best placed to take over the running of both sites and signed the petition to keep the centres open, along with 16,000 people.

He said: “I’ve used Oxenwood in the past and know people who do and have worked there. It seems to me that monetary return is proving more important to the council than maintaining the charitable goal and function of the centres.

“Putting the centres onto the open market is probably the correct approach to achieve maximum financial return, however, is unlikely to mean the centres continue their role supporting schools and young people. Outdoor education is key in supporting the development of young people and providing opportunities for growth for people of any age.

“If there are charities with aligned goals then in my opinion they need to be top of the council’s list for consideration.”

Wiltshire Council stated that the cabinet discuss Oxenwood and Braeside in a meeting on November 27.