60 jobs to go, 28 new posts created, Wisbech staff may move to Cambridge as COWA looks to save �1.6 million

SIXTY jobs could go, a residential centre for 24 students with learning disabilities from Cambridgeshire and Norfolk will close and some courses axed at the College of West Anglia.

There are proposed redundancies among lecturers in textiles, fine arts and psychology at the King’s Lynn campus and lecturers in skills for life at Wisbech. Administrative posts are also at risk on both campuses

New posts are being created - with lecturers at risk in Wisbech being invited to apply for posts created at Milton, Cambridge, when the animal care department re-locates there - a move planned before the current round of cuts were mooted.

Staff has been warned of a “challenging” economic situation and the cost of new building work under way on the King’s Lynn campus mean the college has to find savings of �1.6 million.

COWA principal David Pomfret said he needed to make budget savings of �1.6million and we “also need to take some tough decisions which inevitably affect jobs.”

Mr Pomfret acknowledges that staff cuts on the scale of those proposed are likely to have a “damaging effect” on morale.

But he insists the scale of the financial challenge facing the college make them “unavoidable”.

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A consultation paper warns 60 full and part-time staff they are at risk of redundancy.

But 28 new posts are being created and a “net reduction” of 19 posts is expected, which will generate savings of �400,000.

The consultation paper says college funds and loan facilities are committed to building new technology centres in King’s Lynn and Wisbech, the refurbishment of the tower block on Tennyson Avenue and routine maintenance.

“As a result, the college is unable to fund the works required at Plaxtole House without external support,” it adds. “The college has sought external funding but has been unsuccessful.”

Plaxtole House, off Goodwins Road, is for 24 students with learning disabilities; the consultation paper recommends moving them to rented accommodation.

Six jobs - including duty officers, key workers and night duty officers - would be made redundant.

From September textile and A level psychology courses at King’s Lynn will be closed to new students.

The consultation paper also warns that remaining staff will not be receiving a pay rise this year.

“Further staffing cuts are also likely next year and in subsequent years,” it goes on. “The financial outlook for future years remains unpromising.

“Government budgets for education are expected to shrink and, with the political sensitivity of schools, further education is likely to bear a disproportionate share of these.”

Consultation over the proposals lasts until May 11. A final decision will be announced in June.

“We are committed to avoiding compulsory redundancies as far as possible and will look at a range of options to minimise this,” said Mr Pomfret

“The college governors and senior management remain committed to continuing to provide the best possible education and training opportunities for all our students at all our centres. The changes proposed today will further prepare us to be able to manage the tough financial climate ahead and, ultimately, offer the best deal for students.”