Youth hostel set to close
THE proposed closure of a youth hostel in a picturesque Essex village would be another blow to the quality of rural life, it was claimed yesterday. The Youth Hostels Association (YHA) has announced it is shutting more than 30 of its venues as part of £18 million plans to “revitalise” its network.
THE proposed closure of a youth hostel in a picturesque Essex village would be another blow to the quality of rural life, it was claimed yesterday.
The Youth Hostels Association (YHA) has announced it is shutting more than 30 of its venues as part of £18 million plans to “revitalise” its network.
And on the list of planned closures is one based in a 17th Century building in picturesque Castle Hedingham.
The YHA said its radical overhaul, which will see 70 people lose their jobs nationwide, is vital for future success.
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The association is planning to relocate some of the 32 hostels it is closing, but confirmed yesterday Castle Hedingham is not one of those.
It said the hostel was only occupied a third of the time and also needed costly improvements if it was to stay up to date.
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But news of the closure was greeted with disappointment locally.
Jo Beavis, who represents Hedingham on Braintree District Council, said the closure, coming on top of Barclays Bank and the local post office being axed, was affecting rural life.
She said: “I am quite surprised about this, it is in a unique location and as far as I am aware the youth hostel is making money.
“It brings money into the local economy and gives people a way of travelling round at relatively low rates and gives them time to walk round and enjoy the area - it is a great old village, you have the Colne Valley and the Blackwater to enjoy.
“I would like to see it stay and if you ask around people will tell you these kind of things have to stay as they are vital for village life.”
Fellow councillor Wendy Scattergood, responsible for planning and rural issues, added: “Anything that stops or reduces tourism in the area is a concern.
“We have been promoting tourism in the area, such as working with the railway and helping them to promote their business.”
But Duncan Simpson, head of communications at YHA, said: “It is not a priority location for us, particularly with Saffron Walden fairly close in the area.
“The problem we have is that it has pretty low usage and does not get a large amount of interest from young people who are our target market.
“It is not that easy to get to and it is a facility that would need a lot of investment to bring the building up to the standards expected.”
YHA chief executive Roger Clarke said they would work with unions to help those affected by the forecast job losses.
The YHA has said the closures will not begin until November at the earliest.