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Meridian Music Centre staff seek funding for college

PUBLISHED: 13:49 13 August 2010 | UPDATED: 12:25 16 August 2010

Marc Bell with redundancy letter

Marc Bell with redundancy letter

Archant

College tutors who have been made redundant from a thriving music centre are desperately seeking funding in a last-ditch attempt to keep the facility open.

Sixteen staff were presented with redundancy letters at the Meridian Music Centre, based in Old East Greenwich library, Woolwich Road, before the centre was officially closed on Friday.

The head of music at the centre, which has trained hundreds of students and enabled them to gain employment in the music industry said the closure may result in increased crime rates in the borough.

At a full council meeting last Wednesday two petitions containing more than 1,000 signatures appealing for the facility to be kept open were presented to Greenwich council.

Head of music, Paul Hall from Croydon, said: “There’s going to be an affect on the borough with increased crime rates.

“There will be nowhere for young people who never engaged in mainstream education to gain qualifications to enable them to get a job.”

“I never thought it would come to this. We want to continue to provide education for any disaffected youths.

“We’re about social inclusion and we’ve increased opportunities for people who wouldn’t normally go to university.”

Senior music and business studies tutor, Marc Bell, 53, from Shooters Hill who has been campaigning to save the college since March, was suspended from his role six weeks ago. He said: “I want to see the college open for the community and students to carry on for the good of everyone.

“If a facility like this has gone, it’s never going to come back again.”

The reasons sited for the closure of the college, which is part of Greenwich Community College included bad exam results and an unfit building for students to study in.

However, according to college staff over the past two months the building has been repaired and the centre has achieved an 80 per cent pass rate this year.

Mr Hall, who has been at the centre for 18 years, added: “I know we’re in a time of cutbacks but we are seeking funding to remain open.”

In a statement, Greenwich Community College said: “The college has taken account of responses by staff and students at the Meridian Music Centre; however the decision to close the centre has gone ahead, mainly due to the accommodation factors.

“Once the Learning and Skills Council Capital Build Support programme was withdrawn nationally, the cost of the move as part of the college’s accommodation strategy became prohibitively expensive, even more so with the additional funding cuts.”

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