Concern over future of college centre

montrose councillor David May has expressed concern at a possible threat to the future of Angus College’s Montrose centre posed by government spending cuts.

Mr May, a former head teacher, this week said the move would result in a knock-on negative effect to local education and the economy.

He said: “I am really concerned about the effect these huge Scottish Government cuts will have on both the number and range of courses being available for our youngsters in Montrose, and therefore their chances of gaining the important job skills which will lead to a job.

“Furthermore, as far as our town is concerned, these savage cuts will threaten the survival of our own Angus College Learning Centre in Montrose which plays such a big part for many people in our area in courses such as Information Technology, Administration and Care.

The learning centre, in Northesk Road, could face closure after college principal John Burt warned that 2,000 student places would be axed and staff made redundant due to Scottish colleges’ budgets being slashed.

He also said it would leave the entire learning centre network at risk.

Colleges are bracing themselves for a 13.5 per cent fall over the next three years in addition to a 10.3 percent cut which has already been made this term.

Mr May said: “On the back of last year’s large cuts on their budget our local colleges, where many of our Montrose young people attend, are expected to make an almost 40 per cent cut across the board in real terms from now until 2015. This is bound to lead to massive cuts in college places both full time and part-time.

“There is also no doubt that this slashing of the budget makes nonsense of the Scottish Government’s claim to pledge to give opportunities for all 16 to 19 year olds.”

He added that the impact of the cuts would be felt throughout the wider economy as colleges play a vital role by providing students with required skills, particularly at a time when local jobs in the renewables sector are a possibility.

He said: “This seems in total contradiction to what the first minister has been saying about growing the economy being his top priority.

“The Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie said at the weekend that the UK Government’s decision to freeze Council tax in England has led to extra Barnett Consequential Funding for Scotland. As a Montrose councillor, who is convener of Infrastructure Services and a former secondary head teacher, I urge all our councillors MSPs to argue the case with the minister to use some of this money to stop the cuts Mr. Swinney announced in the budget.”