FENLAND: Leaked report spells out how college plans to get out of the red

EXCLUSIVE BY John Elworthy PRINCIPAL David Pomfret said today under recruitment of adult students and unforeseen maintenance costs have helped drive the College of West Anglia into the red. Mr Pomfret said at one stage the forecast deficit at the college

EXCLUSIVE

BY John Elworthy

PRINCIPAL David Pomfret said today under recruitment of adult students and unforeseen maintenance costs have helped drive the College of West Anglia into the red.

Mr Pomfret said at one stage the forecast deficit at the college - which has bases in King Lynn, Wisbech and Cambridge- was as high as �2 million but this has been "reined back" to �1.2 million.


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He blamed under recruitment of adult students, changes in funding by the Learning and Skills Council, and unforeseen building maintenance costs in trying to keep ageing buildings up to scratch.

Mr Pomfret re-iterated his support for the Fenland campus and has told local councillors both he and the governors "remain committed" to a broad curriculum at Wisbech.

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However documents obtained today by this newspaper indicate the cuts - which could lead to 30 redundancies across the college- will have major implications for Wisbech.

The documents not only show the college is proposing to axe a 'tots to teens' nursery and after school club at Wisbech (to save �32,000 this year) but also plans to transfer staff and students on the equine courses to Milton, Cambridge.

The college also proposes to shift its land based faculty to Milton where �4 million has recently been invested.

"The existing land based faculty delivers to extremely small student numbers split across two campuses in all programme areas," says Mr Pomfret.

"To facilitate efficiency savings all land based curriculum, with the exception of animal care, will be delivered from the Milton campus."

A new post of campus director will be created at Milton to take day to day operational responsibility: even the head groundsman at Wisbech is being switched there.

Mr Pomfret says that the re-organisation was necessary to release the money needed to replace and gradually improve college equipment.

"The college needs an average surplus of around �1 million per year (although that clearly cannot be achieved in one year)," he said. "The improvement is unlikely in the short term to come from increased Government funding.

"Next year's funding, whilst still not fixed, will probably be less than this year's. The longer term outlook is also highly uncertain, with the LSC set to disappear in 2010 and the economy restricting the government's ability to fund increases."

He added: "To regain the college's previously healthy financial status and enable it to continue to invest in new provision, costs have to be brought more in line with income. With great regret, management has concluded that pay costs, which at 66 per cent of income are well above FE college averages, must be cut."

Referring to the college's rebuilding programme - stalled by cuts in Government funding- Mr Pomfret urges staff "to remain positive" about future prospects although "it is clear that the timescales are not imminent.

"Planning for new ways of working in revised geographical locations has, therefore, not been a significant factor in these proposals."

*Although the college is axing its Wisbech nursery, the Kings Lynn 'Applewood' nursery is to stay.

Mr Pomfret says it is used by both staff and students and although is projected to make a loss it is much smaller than that at Wisbech. The college will work with nursery staff "to minimise this year's losses and move the nursery to a situation where it is a profit making part of the college's estate".

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