The future of the outdoor education centre at Ford Castle is in doubt once more less than two years after it reopened.
Since 1956 children have enjoyed the outdoors at the Castle, which was leased by Northumberland County Council to host school trips up until August 2011.
At that time, the council reported that the venture had been trading at a significant loss and efforts to turn the situation around had failed.
In 2011 the centre was closed as part of a series of budget cutbacks.
It was able to re-open in April last year after the council linked up with the Weardale based school trip provider Chateau Beaumont.
This move, it was thought at the time, would safeguard the centre for 20 years.
But just 18 months on the council has given three years’ notice on the lease and the owners, Ford & Etal Estates say it is too soon to say what will happen next.
The estate has also accused the council of failing to maintain the castle which was built in 1278, which contributed to it being placed on the English Heritage “at risk” register in 2011.
Despite an improvement in its grading, the castle remains on the register.
The council has earmarked £8.3m in its budget for maintenance and repairs.
A council spokeswoman said: “The council has made every effort to retain a suitable use for the castle.
“But in facing unprecedented budget challenges we have had to make a difficult decision to reduce the financial impact for the future.
“We are giving notice on the lease but have earmarked a budget for maintenance and repairs until the lease ends.”
However Lord Joicey, director and trustee of Ford & Etal Estates, said: “Whilst we appreciate that it is withdrawing from its lease as a result of necessary financial cuts, the council’s treatment and handling of this matter, and in particular its failure to liaise with us as landlords and to conclude arrangements with Chateau Beaumont Ltd. have been disjointed, not very professional and not consistent with standards of good practice.”
He added: “Despite having a special and long relationship with Northumberland County Council, Ford & Etal Estates have been disappointed to receive without forewarning a letter from solicitors acting for the council giving three years notice to terminate the council’s lease of Ford Castle.”
Nobody from Chateau Beaumont was available to comment at the time of going to press.