Outrage at education cuts in Lambeth as Brixton college campus set to close


There are plans to turn the site into housing.

By Sandra Saadi

An angry wind is blowing through Lambeth as a popular college campus is set to be knocked down for redevelopment.

Management at the Brixton Centre of Lambeth College deem the building to be dated, underused and too expensive to maintain.

Students, local unionists and community organisations are all opposed to the plans to turn the site into housing, and are angry at the lack of transparency in the process.

“The college is paid for by general taxation and belongs to every citizen of Lambeth,” said Chris Blake from Lambeth Save our Services.

“The college governors should launch a full consultation on the future of the site in Brixton.  They should not be making the decisions behind closed doors.  If the governors won’t launch a full consultation, Lambeth councillors and Lambeth MPs should force them to do it.”

Opponents to the plan worry that it would toll the death knell of quality education in one of the most disadvantaged areas of the London. The announcement follows a series of cuts to benefits and services in the area.

“More recently we have witnessed a reduction in Adult Community Learning courses that add to the richness and diversity of our community. We feel that the plan has not considered the effect that it will have on the wider community and resident’s abilities to access education locally,” stressed Stop Education Attacks! Campaigners.

The Brixton centre of Lambeth College specialises in courses for young people who need an opportunity to re-engage with education, for students with learning difficulties and disabilities and for those who need to improve their English language skills.

Brixton campus is also backed by other institutions such as the University of London Union (ULU), which is giving its full support to the campaign.

ULU has joined the campaign for public funding from the government to rebuild the Brixton site as a new modern campus to meet local needs. They called on management to listen to its staff and students and to drop the sell-off plans.

A petition, launched to oppose the sale of the Brixton centre, has already been signed by 594 supporters urging the management and the governors of the college to consider an alternative plan.

College management accuses the underuse, the poor condition and the costs of maintenance justify selling off the site. It claims that it has 20% more space than it needs across the three sites in Vauxhall, Clapham and Brixton.

The plan would be the opportunity to invest and strengthen the quality of education delivered in the Brixton area in the longer term.

“With the proceeds of the sale, we can build a new, fit-for-purpose facility in Brixton as well as invest further in the delivery of first-class education, learning and skills for local people across the borough,” college management said.

Courses at the campus will continue until 2014 with disruption ‘kept at minimum’. However, some of the courses currently taught at Brixton will be move elsewhere in the borough.

Lambeth College had a damning ‘inadequate’ rating from Ofsted in March 2012 and eventually made a rapid recovery as it was successful re-inspected in May this year.

The institution announced in May that it was to cut ’30 to 40’ staff members in the borough due to cut of government funding of about £3.5 million. 

Photo courtesy of cpsucsa, with thanks.

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