Jobs, courses and residential block cut at College of West Anglia in King’s Lynn

Sixty jobs are at risk, a residential block is being closed and courses axed at the College of West Anglia, it emerged last night.

In a consultation paper sent to affected staff, management warn a 'challenging' economic situation and the cost of new building work under way on the King's Lynn campus mean the college has to find savings of �1.6m.

Loss of central government funding and increased pension costs have also impacted on budgets, the consultation paper says.

Last night COWA principal David Pomfret said: 'We need to make budget savings of �1.6m in the coming year and, although we are planning to deliver the major part of this through reductions in non-pay budgets, we also need to take some tough decisions which inevitably affect jobs.'

Colleges across Norfolk are likely to face tough decisions in the coming months with all set to see significant reductions in the amount of money they receive from the government.


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Last night Dick Palmer, principal of City College Norwich, said it too would need to make savings 'across the whole of the college' as a result of cuts to its funding allocation for 16 to 18-year-old students as well as an overall reduction in the amount coming in for higher education courses.

Decisions regarding exactly where the axe will fall are still being finalised but Mr Palmer said job losses were likely as the college tried to minimise the disruption to learners and the courses on offer.

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At the College of West Anglia, the consultation paper warns 60 full and part-time staff are at risk of redundancy. But 28 new posts are being created and the a 'net reduction' of 19 posts is expected, which will generate savings of �400,000.

The consultation paper says fire officers have ordered work to be carried out on the building which would cost the college �750,000, while a further �750,000 would be needed to fun other improvements.

Mr Pomfret added: 'We are committed to minimising the impact on students and, although the residential accommodation at Plaxtole House is unique in the local area, we simply cannot afford to carry out the work that would be required to enable us to keep it open.'

The consultation paper says college funds and loan facilities are committed to building new technology centres in King's Lynn and Wisbech, the refurbishment of the tower block on Tennyson Avenue and routine maintenance.

'As a result, the College is unable to fund the works required at Plaxtole House without external support,' it adds. 'The College has sought external funding but has been unsuccessful.'

Plaxtole House, off Goodwins Road, is currently used as a residential accommodation for 24 students with learning disabilities from Norfolk and Cambridgeshire. The consultation paper recommends moving them to rented accommodation.

'We will be talking to parents and carers and students who use the residential accommodation in the coming weeks about alternative options for the future,' said Mr Pomfret. 'The college is committed to continuing to provide excellent provision for learners with learning difficulties and disabilities.'

Six jobs - including duty officers, key workers and night duty officers - would be made redundant.

Other proposed redundancies include lecturers in textiles, fine arts and psychology at the King's Lynn campus and lecturers in skills for life at Wisbech. Administrative posts are also at risk on both campuses.

The Pulse8 Fitness Centre on the Lynn campus is also earmarked for closure, with the loss of one full and four part-time posts.

Mr Pomfret said it was no longer viable, after the college moved its main sports programmes, teaching staff and facilities, to Lynnsport last summer, where students have access to the Bodyworks fitness studio.

From September 2012, textile and A level psychology courses at King's Lynn will be closed to new students.

The consultation paper also warns that remaining staff will not be receiving a pay rise this year.

'Further staffing cuts are also likely next year and in subsequent years,' it goes on. 'The financial outlook for future years remains unpromising.

'Government budgets for education are expected to shrink and, with the political sensitivity of schools, further education is likely to bear a disproportionate share of these.'

Consultation over the propsals lasts until May 11. A final decision will be announced in June.

'We are committed to avoiding compulsory redundancies as far as possible and will look at a range of options to minimise this,' said Mr Pomfret

'The college governors and senior management remain committed to continuing to provide the best possible education and training opportunities for all our students at all our centres. The changes proposed today will further prepare us to be able to manage the tough financial climate ahead and, ultimately, offer the best deal for students.'

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