Major march to save threatened campus

THE fight to save the closure of a �5.5 million college campus could see campaigners taking to the streets in protest, writes Lorraine king. During a public meeting last Friday to discuss the controversial plans to close the branch of College of North We

THE fight to save the closure of a �5.5 million college campus could see campaigners taking to the streets in protest, writes Lorraine king.

During a public meeting last Friday to discuss the controversial plans to close the branch of College of North West London (CNWL) in Priory Park Road, Kilburn, angry students, academics and residents agreed that a march along Kilburn High Road, should be the next course of action.

It was standing room only as more than 100 people packed in Kingsgate Community Centre in Kingsgate Road, Kilburn, to voice their concerns over the future of Kilburn, if the three-year-old campus is allowed to close.

A suggestion of a march on the high road by resident Michael Bradley was met with a rapturous response.


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He said: "Anyone who walks down Kilburn High Road, can see what's happening to the area - the shops are empty and its been neglected.

"We have to show by any means necessary that we will ensure the college is kept open.

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"A demonstration down Kilburn High Road, is a way of getting the community together so they will have to hear our voice."

CNWL, which has two other campuses in Willesden and Wembley, claims from August it will have to suspend lessons at the three-year-old building, for at least 12 months, to plug a �3.2m financial hole created by a slash in funding for adult courses by the now disbanded Learning and Skills Council.

But, last month the Times exclusively revealed the college owned an unused building worth more than �4m that it is refusing to sell.

Crescent House, a seven-storey building in the heart of Wembley, is also costing the CNWL �60,000 a year in security costs and thousands of pounds in business rates.

The revelation has resulted in claims that bosses at CNWL are behaving like property developers rather than educationalists.

Indro Sen, CNWL's branch secretary of UCU, told the packed crowd: "The college is putting bricks and mortars before students.

"We, the lecturers, have been trained to care for our students so we cannot look the other way. We are determined to fight and keep the campus open even if it costs us our jobs."

Alan Whittaker, general secretary of the University and College Union (UCU) travelled from Oxford to speak at the meeting.

He said: "Further education colleges are local colleges. They exist to serve the needs of the community in which they are situated.

"A closure will have a devastating effect on people who live in and around Kilburn."

Parliamentary candidates from all parties put aside their differences to briefly attend the meeting and unite in their support to keep the college.

Hank Roberts, a whistleblower who opened the lid on a bonus culture at his school, said there should be an investigation into the decision.

A CNWL spokeswoman said it had yet to make a final decision on the unused building in Wembley, because of restrictions on public grants for capital developments, poor market conditions and general public expenditure constraints. She added: "The college is considering a range of options.

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