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Snowdonia ski slope protest will not change closure plan

A SKI slope occupied by protesters in a bid to keep it open will shut unless someone with “deep pockets” stumps up the cash to revamp it.

That was the verdict of mountaineering centre boss Martin Doyle, after 20 youngsters set up tents at Plas-y-Brenin, in Capel Curig, Snowdonia, in protest at the closure of its ski slope.

This protest is now in its third day.

The youngsters have accused the centre, which is a charity, and owners Sport England of betraying their motto of Sport for All.

But yesterday centre chief executive Mr Doyle said despite having sympathy for the young skiers there was no prospect that the decision would change.

He said: “Unless someone comes to us with deep pockets who is willing to invest capital into the slope then I can’t see how this decision will change.

“We have considered bids from third parties to run the slope but we have not considered any of these viable and no-one has come forward saying they have the money to carry out the investment needed.

“I understand why the youngsters feel upset but nothing will change, the money just isn’t there.”

The slope, which has run at a loss for several years, requires a £600,000 investment to refurbish it according to the charity, although the North Wales Snowsports Club that use the site question this figure.

Mr Doyle said: “The slope is already losing money because of dwindling numbers so there is no prospect that any investment in the slope would ever be paid back.

“We have investigated grants but received no encouragement that money would be available to us. Money is hard to come by at the moment.”

The centre announced in 2010 that the slope would close at the end of April 2012. This date was brought forward after weather damage in March.

Businessman Mike Keating has offered to take over the running of the slope. He said: “We have the expertise, the funding and the inclination to run a successful ski facility at Plas-y-Brenin.”

He added that he believed the slope did not need re-surfacing or a new ski lift but did require structural repairs.

He said the bill would be far lower than that quoted from the centre.

Lady Alice Douglas, from the Snowsports club, said: “The children have been protesting for months through the North Wales Snowsports Club which is based at the slope but as all the letters to management, MP’s and governing bodies have fallen on deaf ears they decided to copy the Occupy Movement and stage a mini St Paul’s protest to get their voices heard.”

Sport England property director Charles Johnston said they’ve already helped some users relocate to Llandudno’s dry ski slope.

“Any third party operator who would want to run the slope would need to raise significant capital investment to bring the facility up to standard, but without a huge increase in users the facility would still not be sustainable.”

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