I am extremely concerned at the news that Warrington and Vale Royal College is set to largely close its Hartford Campus.

I have spoken to the Principal to express my concerns, and asked her and the governors to think again in order to protect staff, students and courses and retain facilities in Northwich.

I will be seeking an urgent meeting with the leader of the council and others to see if there is anything that can be done to reverse this decision at this late hour, and I will also be raising it in parliament with the Secretary of State for Education.

I fully accept the fact that the reason decisions like this are even considered is as a result of the government’s failed austerity agenda. However, despite the funding and other challenges the college faces, I am yet to be convinced that closing Hartford is the only, or the right response. After all, just before last year’s General Election when Warrington College merged with the former Mid Cheshire College the management and the governors claimed this would secure and improve provision in the area. It is hard to see how a claim made so recently can already be resulting in this particular proposed course of action. I will also be asking questions as to why an alternative option including a Cheshire wide merger on a larger scale with other colleges was rejected less than a year ago. This is despite unions believing it was potentially a route that could better access funding opportunities and effectively secure future provision.

I am hugely concerned for staff, students and their families for whom this news will be extremely distressing, and I will be calling on the college authorities to make sure that they are given all appropriate support. I also hope and expect that the college will fully involve and listen to the relevant trade unions as a matter of urgency.

I will keep constituents updated, and continue to do all I can to make sure that constituents across Weaver Vale have access to the training and educational opportunities they need and deserve

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