King’s Lynn college boss pleads for end to austerity

Applewood Children's Nursery at the CofWA site King's Lynn ANL-150104-163105009
Applewood Children's Nursery at the CofWA site King's Lynn ANL-150104-163105009
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The principal of Lynn’s College of West Anglia has called on parliamentary candidates to help end austerity after announcing cost-cutting plans set to hit its students and staff.

David Pomfret spoke out as the college begins consulting with staff on a range of proposals designed to help claw back a £2 million budget deficit.

One of the proposals is to close the college’s Apple Wood Children’s Nursery by the end of July – with the loss of 15 full and part-time jobs.

Mr Pomfret stressed that the college faced the “impossible” task of continuing to deliver high-quality education with ever-decreasing funding.

“In the build-up to the general election, I call on all our parliamentary candidates to recognise the longer-term impact of the unprecedented scale of these cuts,” he said.

Mr Pomfret warned it would be “impossible” to make savings of the level required without affecting jobs.

But he said every effort would be made to keep job losses to a minimum, and the majority of staffing reductions will be in non-teaching areas, such as those at Apple Wood Nursery.

Mr Pomfret said the college was now consulting with staff on a range of cost-saving proposals, a “direct result” of year-on-year cuts.

He said the college was currently facing cuts of £1.7 million, and when combined with increased national insurance and pension costs, means it is looking at a budget reduction of almost £2m in 2015-2016.

The bulk of the savings will be achieved from non-pay budgets and the proposals include savings in IT and property costs as well as the re-location of the employer training department from the Priory Centre in Downham to the Lynn campus.

The college has also indicated the possibility of having to close the specialist courses currently delivered at Lynn’s Plaxtole House unless it can secure suitable alternative premises.

Mr Pomfret said: “These proposals are a direct result of the cumulative impact of year-on-year government funding cuts, which have resulted in a £6 million reduction in funding over the past three years.

“Together with colleges across the country, we face an almost impossible task of being able to continue to deliver high quality education and training in first class facilities with ever-decreasing funding.

“In the build-up to the general election, I call on all our parliamentary candidates to recognise the longer-term impact of the unprecedented scale of these cuts and the unfairness of the current funding arrangements for post-16 education.

“The proposals aim to achieve the required savings whilst minimising the impact on our core business of teaching and learning as well as protecting frontline services.”

North West Norfolk Conservative candidate Henry Bellingham said the government was still running at an £85 to £90 billion deficit.

“Unfortunately, investments cannot be made in education, or other sectors such as the NHS, until the economy gets back to growth.”

He said there had been an increase in post-16 education funding nationally, some of which helped create the university faculty at the college, but said anything that represented a removal of facilities for students and staff was a backward step.

“I welcome the comments from Mr Pomfret and will be raising the issue with ministers,” he added.