MORE schoolchildren and residents are getting behind the campaign to keep Cwm Pennant Mountain Centre open, after Hillingdon Council revealed it was cancelling its funding.

Last week, the Hillingdon Times re-printed a petition form on behalf of two pupils at Swakeleys School, and residents have been filling in the forms in droves and posting them to our offices.

This week, Longmead Primary School in West Drayton joined the campaign - and also sent in a petition to Hillingdon Council.

The centre, in Snowdonia National Park, runs outdoor education courses for schools and youth groups and is managed by Hillingdon Council. But in this year's budget the council decided it could save £35,000 a year by closing Cwm Pennant.

However, this week, the leader of Hillingdon Council, Councillor Ray Puddifoot, said he was hopeful that the council may be able to find another organisation to take over the running of the centre.

He said: "The fact is, last year, 2,062 people used Cwm Pennant. Of those, 556 were people from Hillingdon - that amounts to 27 per cent.

"We have 40,000 children in education in Hillingdon and the low intake from Hillingdon residents does not justify us running a centre in Wales for the use of other authorities."

"Regrettably the real interest is just not there."

Leader of the Labour group, Councillor Anthony Way, said: "I am more than happy to escort Mr Puddifoot down to Cwm Pennant, along with other petitioners. Maybe then he will be able to see what others can already see and he obviously can't."

Rachel Blackburn, 15, and Jodie O'Connell, 16, both from Swakeleys School, have been using any spare break times or lunch times at school to make sure they get as many signatures as they can for their petition.

The Hillingdon Times has agreed to help the girls with their petition and can fill in the form on this website.