HUNTINGDONSHIRE Regional College has bowed to pressure and will hold a public consultation on the fate of its St Neots campus.
It was revealed last week that the college planned to close its Almond Road site, which runs construction courses for 66 full-time students – 30 from St Neots – and move courses to California Road, Huntingdon, as early as September.
Students will be offered free travel between the towns.
But following a meeting with community leaders at Huntingdonshire District Council’s headquarters Pathfinder House on Monday, college bosses have agreed to hold a consultation event on the move later this month.
HDC’s executive leader Councillor Jason Ablewhite chaired the meeting, which was attended by college principal Susanne Stent, finance director Scott Cryer, chairman of governors Jacky Jenkins and vice-chairman Doug Adams.
He said: “They put a good business case forward as to why they can’t support a further education provision in St Neots, but I firmly believe they haven’t explored all the options.
“Firstly it’s about economics – then it’s not about economics. They say they have to balance the books but it should not be to the detriment of frontline services.”
St Neots mayor Cllr Barry Chapman, who was also at the meeting, said: “Cllr Ablewhite and I made it clear we wanted to see the St Neots campus maintained and expanded.
“The land is for educational use and not houses.”
Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly said: “I can understand that HRC would want to review their current facilities, and I agree that the Almond Road campus does need investment to make it an attractive and appealing learning environment.
“However, I cannot see that losing the only further education facility in St Neots is in the best interests of St Neots’ residents or of local education in the wider sense.”
But St Neots town councillor, Cllr Bob Farrer, backed the move. He said: “They should carry on and shut it down as long as they give some money back to St Neots.”
INFORMATION: The consultation will be held on Wednesday, March 21, from 6.30pm at the St Neots campus. Everyone is welcome to attend.