Anguished campaigners joined a public gathering to meet Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond on Thursday with only one goal – to save Merton’s adult education and stop the sale of its Whatley Avenue home.
As reported by SW Londoner, students have been struggling to save Merton’s Adult Education (MAE) after £32m service cuts were announced in late October.
In the meeting, held in the under-threat Whatley Avenue venue, Mr Hammond pledged his support to the continuation of adult education in Merton amid concerned voices about the future of their much-loved service.
Mr Hammond said: “Merton Adult Education provides an invaluable service for so many.
“Labour Merton has made no plausible case for closing and shutting it. The Labour council should be ashamed of its behaviour which will hurt so many .”
He also tweeted his support for the campaign.
#SaveMAE thanks to all who turned up last night. Real passion to stop crazy Labour plan to shut MAE and Whatley rd site .
— Stephen Hammond MP (@SHammondMP) November 20, 2014
Earlier this month a Cabinet meeting said the best scenario for the future of MAE would be to find external providers.
The Save MAE campaign oppose this idea and want to keep courses and classes based at the Whatley Avenue site.
— Save MAE (@Save_MAE) November 20, 2014
Campaigners feel they are trapped in a dead end situation and that promises to take the residents’ opinion into account won’t be kept.
There is also fear that the suggested commissioning model is an ill-planned, costly solution.
Gay Bennett-Powell of the campaign to save MAE said: “To ensure the quality of teaching, learning, assessment, learner progression and learner voice processes, a considerable amount of Council officer time would be required.
“Does the council really think that commissioning will save money?
“If it does, it must already have a very large team of council officers working on the current delivery of Merton adult education services.”
A consultation to get people’s suggestions for shaping the service’s future was suspended last week due to a ‘call-in’ by the scrutiny committee but is now back on until January 4.
The council has organised two meetings for residents to contribute their ideas on Tuesday, December 2 at 2pm and 7pm at the council chamber in Morden.
Two online petitions, by the Save MAE campaigned and Wimbledon LibDem campaigner Shas Sheehan, have attracted more than 1000 signatures.
You can take part in the survey here.