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Safety fears sees climbing wall axed

PUBLISHED: 11:29 25 March 2010 | UPDATED: 17:44 25 August 2010

A CLIMBING wall used by scouts has had to be axed over health and safety pressures with the loss of two instructor jobs. Trust Thamesmead, the development trust which owns and operates the Cave climbing wall in Harrow Manor Way, Thamesmead, made the anno

A CLIMBING wall used by scouts has had to be axed over health and safety pressures with the loss of two instructor jobs.

Trust Thamesmead, the development trust which owns and operates the Cave climbing wall in Harrow Manor Way, Thamesmead, made the announcement last Wednesday as part of a cost-cutting review.

Spiralling costs of more than £110,000 were blamed on tougher health and safety rules requiring a higher instructor/climber ratio, leading to the forced closure from June 1 until summer 2011 when Southern Arches is completed.

Two full-time members of the Cave's staff have been cut and a number of part-timers will lose their jobs.

A spokeswoman for the trust said it had been in contact with scouting groups, but the decision has come as a shock to Bexleyheath Scouts district commissioner, Gary Whitehead, who said: "It's the first I've heard of it.

"The facility will be sorely missed by a lot of our scouts who use it as there aren't many venues in the area. It will mean travelling further afield.

"The authorities complain of anti-social behaviour, yet this is another example of an after school attraction closing down."

Schools whose syllabuses rely on the centre for accredited courses have been contacted by the trust, according to the spokeswoman, who added: "We are timing the refurbishment so that schools will not have examinations disrupted.

"The refurbished wall will be a better offer than the existing facility."

Trust Thamesmead's chief executive Mick Hayes said: "While the loss of any job is very regrettable, and our Cave team deserve praise for their hard work, there was no option other than to close the Cave in its present form.

"However, the trust remains absolutely committed to opening a new facility within the new development which is due to open early next year."

Other climbing walls in the region include The Reach, which opened in Woolwich in January this year. Bexley Business Academy, designed by Sir Norman Foster, off Yarnton Way, Erith also has one.

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