Petition launched to save college campus in Northwich

A petition has already been signed by hundreds of people, following an announcement by Warrington and Vale Royal College that it plans to close its Hartford campus in Northwich in September.

The move puts 56 jobs at risk, and follows the merger of Warrington Collegiate and Mid Cheshire College last year.

The College says that it's income is set to reduce and a review of the estate has shown that the college’s Hartford campus is 'seriously under-utilised'.

The majority of the campus is set to be decommissioned from September.

Most students will see their courses moved to the Winsford campus, though some will have to travel to Warrington for classes.

Concerned parent Stuart Williamson, who has twin daughters that currently attend the Northwich site, and has a niece and nephew who had been due to attend in the summer, has set up a petition to save the campus.

He says it is "appalling" that the move has been considered. 

Weaver Vale MP Mike Amesbury also says it is “shocked and hugely concerned” at the plans - especially after being given assurances last summer that the Hartford campus was not at risk.

He said:  "The loss of the campus will be a blow not only to the staff whose jobs are threatened but also to current and future learners in the region.

"I would urge the college to reconsider the proposed redundancies and engage in a meaningful discussion with trade union representatives to explore all viable alternatives."

University and College Union regional official Martyn Moss said: "The college must publicly explain how the future of the Hartford campus has gone from secure to facing closure in a matter of months.

"We believe the college must better explain this decision and there must be a public consultation before any final decision is made."

A spokesperson for Warrington and Vale Royal College said: “As stated in our original merger proposal, we committed to the consolidation of our estate and in-parallel, curriculum specialisation to match the Local Enterprise Partnership’s strategic economic priorities and raise skill levels in response to the government’s Industrial Strategy. This, in turn, will facilitate investment in specialist, ‘best in class’ facilities and resources to meet and exceed industry standards.

“This is part of our strategy to re-shape the Vale Royal aspect of the college’s operation and estate, focusing on Winsford as the primary location. We have been working closely with key stakeholders in the Winsford area who have embraced the college in their plans for the re-generation of the town, to which the college is entirely committed.

“In keeping with the aims of the area based review, we will ensure that Warrington & Vale Royal College is financially sustainable and readily able to respond to any challenges ahead, meeting economic and skills priorities and the needs of the communities we serve, both now and in the future. Above all we aim to provide an excellent learning experience and a breadth of provision across the college estate, providing a range of clear progression routes at all levels, from Entry upwards, into positive destinations, higher level study and/or fulfilling careers.

“We have commenced a consultation with staff and trade unions about these proposals to achieve a strong and sustainable future for the college and to ensure that staffing levels are appropriate. 56 full time equivalents (FTE) out of 390 FTE are at risk but wherever possible, volunteers for redundancy from the affected employees will be sought to mitigate the need for compulsory redundancies.

“There is an open evening at the Winsford Campus on Tuesday 20th March, 5.30 PM – 8.00 PM. I would urge prospective students and parents to come along to this event, meet staff, take a look around our fantastic facilities and find out more about our vision for Warrington & Vale Royal College.

”We are writing to all our learners, parents, applicants and stakeholders to inform them of the changes and are holding information evenings over the next few weeks.”

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