Learning centre will not reopen despite £2.7m of Government funding
PUBLISHED: 09:00 08 August 2018
An adult learning centre will not reopen despite the education provider securing £2.7million of funding from Government.
Burnham’s Somerset Skills and Learning Centre (SS&L), in Princess Street, shut its doors in December.
The Mercury reported the learning and traineeship service had its funding from the Education and Skills Funding Agency reduced from £3.5million to just £111,000 in September.
A lifeline emergency fund of more than £2million was not enough and the centre was one of five to close in Somerset, with around 50 members of staff made redundant.
SS&L announced it regained funding in July for adult and community education across the region following a successful bid to the Education and Skills Funding Agency.
But despite the cash injection there are no plans to reopen the Burnham centre.
A spokesman for SS&L said: “Even though we have been granted funding we will not be reopening a centre in Burnham at this time. We have never stopped delivering in Burnham at the library or Princess Theatre and arts centre as we have always been committed to delivering in that area.
“We still endeavour to deliver adult education, general interest and leisure courses using external venues and hope the community will also tap into our centre in Bridgwater to access further courses.”
The funding will go towards ‘educational and community projects across Somerset to promote skills, health and well-being’.
SS&L chief executive, Susie Simon-Norris, said the education provider has ‘worked tirelessly’ to secure Government funding.
She said: “We suffered a devastating blow last year when funds were decreased dramatically which meant closing some of our centres and losing many long-standing team members, but we have worked tirelessly to have these vital funds reinstated.
“This now means we can begin to plan activities, projects and initiatives to roll out in September.
“Some of the most vulnerable and isolated people in Somerset will get the opportunity to participate in important projects through this funding, which is fantastic.”
Wells MP James Heappey said: “We fought hard to get funding back for SS&L and I am glad they have been able to restore many of the important courses which benefit so many in our community.
“I understand SS&L are delivering these courses successfully without the use of their old building in Burnham and they have no plans to move back into it.
“Some in the community might be disappointed by this but I think it is the courses which matter most and I support SS&L in seeking to deliver the maximum number of courses to the maximum number of people rather than focusing on a particular building.”