MIKE Amesbury has accused Warrington and Weaver Vale College bosses of ‘vandalising further education provision in Northwich’ following his meeting with the Education Minister in Parliament.

The Weaver Vale MP has been a vocal opponent of plans by Warrington and Vale Royal College to close its Hartford campus since they were announced in March, holding meetings with the college principal and governors, and raising the issue during Commons questions with Anne Milton, Minister of State for Skills and Apprenticeships, where he called for a meeting with her to discuss the proposals.

Mike has now held the meeting, also inviting Roger Grigg, north west regional support officer from the University and College Union. A total of 31 college jobs have already been lost at the campus.

Mike said: “It was a useful meeting and to the Minister’s credit she listened and was engaging, we also agreed some constructive next steps for the coming weeks.”

Warrington and Vale Royal was created after a merger between Warrington Collegiate and Mid Cheshire College, and Mike added that he felt the then Mid Cheshire’s Hartford campus had been earmarked for sale to plug funding gaps for the rest of the college, effectively shoring up Warrington’s coffers at the expense of further education in Northwich.

Mike added: “I made clear the financial pressures being applied to the further education sector by the government are having a devastating impact, but I also made it clear that - in my view - the principal and senior management of the college were on a trajectory to close and sell off Hartford campus following the merger, and that this has been nothing short of vandalism of the FE Sector in Northwich on the college leadership’s part.

“Ultimately I want to ensure that constituents, students and staff are listened to, and I want to retain and further develop first class FE provision in Northwich.

“This is, after all, what the college should be in the business of doing – not behaving like asset strippers and property developers.”