Wellingborough’s business community is calling on the Government to reverse the “catastrophic decision” not to invest in the town’s further education.
The president of Wellingborough Chamber of Commerce Rob Hart has penned a hard-hitting letter to the Secretary of State for Education urging her to overturn the decision to abandon the redevelopment of the town’s Tresham College campus.
Writing to Justine Greening, MP, Mr Hart said: “At a time when Wellingborough is to embark upon one of its most ambitious expansion proposals for decades the Chamber of Commerce regards this a catastrophic decision for the town and for the future skills and development of the young people of Wellingborough.”
This comes on the back of an announcement made at the beginning of February that confirmed Bedford College would take over the running of Tresham College, which includes the Wellingborough Campus that was earmarked for demolition in December.
If the decision cannot be reversed Wellingborough Chamber of Commerce is calling on the government to consider three ways to secure the future of education in the town:
- To consider ways to invest the £4.9m Local Growth Fund to enable the location of a satellite hub of a Further Education College or an Institute of Technology in the town.
- How the capacity and choice of vocational education across the town’s existing secondary schools could be enhanced with the possibility of providing a shared 6th form to offer a vocational curriculum.
- As a last resort, investigate the provision of a dedicated travel arrangement or subsidised public transport to allow young people to continue their education in other nearby towns.
The Chamber of Commerce is seeking to work with Wellingborough Council, Peter Bone MP for Wellingborough and Rushden, and the interim administration team at Tresham College and now Bedford College to find solutions to these issues.
Mr Hart added: “Should this go ahead, and by all indications it seems the decision has already been made, the Chamber believes this will be a non-reversible loss to the town. The likelihood of tertiary education being brought back to Wellingborough in the short to medium term (or even long term), in our opinion, is very low.
“We are also very concerned with problems that Wrenn School has within the town requiring another Academy to take over this failing school and whether this and the situation at Tresham will act as a contagion in education within Wellingborough.”
The Chamber fear that unless something is done young people will be disadvantaged due to the fact they will have to pay for transport to other towns and this may dissuade a significant portion of young people from continuing their education.
They are concerned that the educational links to local businesses and the ability of them to work with Tresham to develop tailored courses for their needs and future requirements, along with developing apprenticeship schemes, will be lost.
Members also believe that the lack of a Further Education College in the town will reduce the attractiveness of Wellingborough as a place for investment.
Mr Hart added: “It is the case that towns or cities of a certain size looking to expand and appeal to a range of different investments for town centre uses normally have a college or university.
“Without Tresham Wellingborough will struggle to create the type of investment opportunity that will be attractive to businesses and facilities which could benefit the whole community.
“Wellingborough Chamber of Commerce is therefore very concerned that Tresham’s decision and ultimately the Department of Education’s not to invest in a new campus for Wellingborough will be an irreversible position.”