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EXCLUSIVE: Council boss in plan to save college

11:19 02 June 2010

THE new leader of the council opted for the controversial closure of a multi-million pound college campus, writes Lorraine King. Cllr Ann John, leader of Brent Council, is on the governing board of the College of North West London s board who rubber-stamp

THE new leader of the council opted for the controversial closure of a multi-million pound college campus, writes Lorraine King.

Cllr Ann John, leader of Brent Council, is on the governing board of the College of North West London's board who rubber-stamped the plan to shut their £5.5m building in Priory Park Road, Kilburn.

When challenged about her role in making the decision, Cllr John admitted she had 'a collective responsibility'.

She added: "I am part of the board."

But she vowed that the college will re-open its doors once its financial mess is sorted.

She said: "Closure is the wrong word. The college is in a difficult financial difficult decision, but it won't close for good."

The three-year-old award-winning building is the biggest casualty of the college's cuts as it tries to plug a £3.2m hole left by a slash in funding from the now defunct Learning Skills Council.

College chiefs claim the building will 'suspend' lessons for 12-months as part of its cost-cutting measures that include slashing job posts and axing courses across the board.

The closure plans raised eyebrows when they were initially announced, but concerns soon turned to anger when the Times revealed the institution was holding on to an unused seven-storey building in the heart of Wembley worth around £4m.

The building was earmarked for an ambitious development which would be brought back into use by the college, but this was shelved because of its funding crisis.

Following this revelation, critics of the campus closure called for the building to be sold and the money be pumped into the Kilburn campus but the college has refused to do so.

Cllr John said: "They may be upset [the critics] but the college has a duty to get the best price for any asset it owns.

"I would refute allegations that they are like behaving like property developers.

"Every single college in the country has property that it has to manage.

"The college has to pull its horns and we need to ensure it comes back into education needs as soon as possible.

"I will do everything within my power to help the college and make sure the building is put to use."

But Indro Sen, the college's branch secretary of University and College Union, is less sceptical about the building re-opening.

He said: "The college clearly recognises their decision raised serious concerns from the public and are trying to placate people.

"I would invite Ann John and the other governors to put a definite date on its re-opening."

A public meeting is being held this evening (27) to discuss proposals to hold a march against the CNWL cuts.

The event is taking place in Kilburn Library, 42 Salusbury Road, Kilburn, at 6pm.

lorraine.king@archant.co.uk

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