An outdoor activity centre for young people used by the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme in Kirklees has been saved from closure.

Kirklees Council had been set to withdraw funding from Little Deer Wood Activity Centre in Mirfield and also the award scheme’s facilities at the Quarry Hill Centre community hub in Almondbury.

The withdrawal of funding was proposed in the council’s draft budget for 2024-25 and sparked a petition signed by more than 1,300 people.

Now the council has backed down and says it will continue to support the two centres. Little Deer Wood is used by hundreds of young people from the ages of seven to 25 including those with disabilities and complex additional needs who are not catered for elsewhere.

Situated in woodland next to the Calder & Hebble Navigation at Shepley Bridge, Little Deer Wood provides activities including canoeing, archery, bushcraft, climbing and bouldering and is a base for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme in Kirklees.

Clr Viv Kendrick, the council’s Cabinet member for children’s services, said: “The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award will continue to be available through the Kirklees Open Award Centres currently available at Little Deer Wood Mirfield and Almondbury.

The Quarry Hill Centre in Almondbury

“The council is facing hugely difficult financial choices this year but we’ve aways said we would prioritise the people who need our support the most.

“And we know that so many young people with additional needs benefit from the inclusive, safe and positive experiences offered by the team at Little Deer Wood.

“We are committed to providing our children, young people and families with a range of activities, respite and short breaks and Little Deer Wood is central to this ambition.

“We will continue to work with partners to offer the best possible outdoor learning experiences we can within our extremely limited resources.”

Batley & Spen Labour MP Kim Leadbeater, who visited Deer Wood with Clr Kendrick during National Volunteers Week, had campaigned in support of Deer Wood and welcomed the decision.

Ms Leadbeater, who is the prospective Parliamentary candidate for the new Spen Valley constituency which will include Mirfield, said: “I have been very clear about the need to protect this precious local facility which offers fantastic opportunities for young people to take part in a wide range of activities.

“Councils across the country are facing very challenging times due to chronic underfunding from central Government, with difficult decisions to be made. I would like to thank Kirklees Council for this reassurance and fully support this decision.”