Around 25 people turned up to a public meeting in Armley to discuss Leeds City College’s imminent threat to close nurseries at its St Bartholomews, Brundenell and Thomas Danby sites which will see the loss of 30 jobs and a valuable service for parents who wish to take up Further Education courses.
Iain Dalton, Leeds Socialist Party
The meeting saw a number of trade unions at the college represented with speakers alongside a student who uses the service. John Giddens from UCU opened the meeting commenting on the further 100 redundancies the college has announced since this proposal, which itself followed a recent cull of teaching staff. Various courses are now being discountinued including spanish lessons and social science access courses.
This is all to enable the college to produce a ‘surplus’, or profit, of £50m by 2030. Whilst the college has suffered funding cuts, John pointed out that they aren’t talking about a break-even budget avoiding the cuts. He pointed out that we shouldn’t be suprised given the principal is now on £182,000 a year and senior staff have seen their pay rise from £500,000 a year to £900,000 in the last five years.
Brian Mulvey, Leeds Unison branch secretary, commented on how the Con-Dem coalition were shutting down public services whilst billions are being evaded in taxes every year. He said that all parents and staff were asking for from the principal was a years reprieve to help make the service viable in the future. In a letter in response (written by a subordinate) they offered a meeting to discuss with parents and staff but insisted on the closure going ahead on the July 4th.
Caroline, a student who uses the nursery, explained about her situation. The nursery has provided a lifeline to her to enable her to retrain after being made redundant after the birth of her son. Whilst she said she was finishing at college this year, she said it was vital to maintain the service for other people in the future in her situation. She linked this to the attacks on education up and down the country, calling for these struggles to be linked up.
Before opening up the meeting for discussion, James, a unison steward and chair of the meeting, commented on how vicious the college is being with students who are learning english as a second language, who have only received communication from the college in English and many of whom haven’t realised what is going on until campaigners have spoken to them. A number of people came in from the floor with suggestions of further activities including public protests over this. Socialist Party members there pledged their support to help the campaign, one that if we lose will see education opportunities vanish for many who need them the most.