The Diocese of Westminster has announced that it is to close All Saints Pastoral Centre at London Colney, Hertfordshire.
Acquired by the diocese in 1973, All Saints Pastoral Centre is currently run as a centre for conferences and retreats. It is anticipated that it will remain open until the end of 2011.
All Saints Pastoral Centre is also home to SPEC, the Diocese of Westminster's residential centre for children and young people. It is anticipated that the provision of these facilities will continue until the end of 2012 at the All Saints Pastoral Centre site. In an announcement to staff, the diocese made clear that it is committed to having a residential retreat centre for children and young people and will now develop options for their provision.
A full consultation period with the 32 staff whose jobs are affected by the planned closure will begin immediately. The diocese will make all efforts to minimise any redundancies and explore alternative employment options across the diocese. No final decisions about redundancies will be made until the conclusion of the consultation process.
The Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster said:
'Since the Diocese of Westminster acquired All Saints Pastoral Centre in 1973, it has been a welcoming venue to many thousands of clergy, parishioners and organisations taking part in conferences, retreats and other events. It has also been the home of SPEC where children and young people from our diocese have taken part in residential programmes and retreats.'
'I would like to pay tribute to the dedication of all those involved in the running of All Saints Pastoral Centre and SPEC. Only through their hard work has it been possible to provide so much to so many.'
'In particular I would like to highlight the work of Mgr Vladimir Felzmann whose ideas and energy have been fundamental to the All Saints Pastoral Centre's ethos of welcome and spiritual discovery. He has also made it possible for our children and young people to have a retreat centre where many of them have developed their faith. I also acknowledge the contribution made by Alan Johnstone who is retiring in November 2011 and whose leadership has ensured the smooth running of All Saints Pastoral Centre over the last 15 years.'
'Our first priority is now to consult with all staff who will be affected by the planned closures. Over the next 30 days representatives of the diocese will meet the members of staff whose jobs are 'at risk' so as to explore all the options available. Please keep the staff in your prayers as they go through what will be a period of uncertainty.'
'The closure and disposal is deeply regretted but it will help the diocese make better use of its resources in what is a challenging economic climate.'
Over the past five years, the Diocese of Westminster has been actively exploring options for the long term future of All Saints Pastoral Centre. These have included substantially upgrading the conference centre facilities or developing the site as an educational centre. All would require a major investment amounting to many millions of pounds. After consulting with its professional advisers, the Trustees have determined that this would not represent a prudent use of diocesan resources.
The Trustees have also examined the current viability of All Saints Pastoral Centre. It is a listed building. The cost of maintenance and repairs is high. It also faces growing competition from other conference centres.
A full consultation period with the staff affected will begin immediately. The initial collective consultation will be with elected representatives of staff and will start as soon as the members have been elected, which is planned to be in the week commencing 31 January 2011. Individual consultation with staff whose jobs are at risk will commence after collective consultation has taken place.
The consultation will include all those who provide pastoral care to young people at SPEC. The diocese is committed to having a residential retreat centre for children and young people and will develop options for this provision.