WEST WORCESTERSHIRE MP Harriett Baldwin has urged the board of Warwickshire College Group to consider the rescue bid aimed at ensuring Malvern Hills College is retained as an education establishment.
The MP has written to group following news that a consortium is trying to open negotiations to save Malvern Hills College from closure.
The group’s chief executive has identified a property agent to market the site but it is believed the building has covenants on it preventing its sale.
Malvern Hills District Council has also confirmed the site will be designated as an ‘Asset of Community Value’ which allows the sale to be delayed while a community purchaser is identified.
Ms Baldwin has urged principal Angela Joyce to put the proposal to her board, rather than press on with her plan to sell the site to the highest bidder.
She said: “The community has worked together to find a workable solution which allows the retention of teaching on the site and has an ambitious plan to add more courses.
“The building is protected by a covenant and all the key stakeholders in Malvern are united in our efforts to preserve the site and its teaching potential.
“I’m urging the group to apply some common-sense and come to a swift deal with the Worcestershire Community Foundation which will get us time to put a new post-16 teaching strategy in place for the academic year.
“I have also contacted the group’s chair and vice-chair and I hope the board will be able to take appropriate steps to make this deal happen.”
A WCG spokesperson said: “We received an unexpected email from the Worcestershire Community Foundation on 12th February 2021 in which it expressed interest in purchasing the Malvern Hills College site.
“In the communication it indicated that there, is of course, the need to carry out necessary due diligence and regulatory requirements as part of any formal offer process.
“We are working to ensure that the WCG Corporation Board meets its statutory obligations and as part of this, continue to take advice from our appointed independent advisors, who have made contact with the Foundation this week.
“It is important in any property transaction that investment over time is recognised and the Malvern Hills College site has benefitted from considerable investment since it was sold by the District Council back in 2008.
“We believe it is right and proper that this process is worked through without undue and unhelpful pressure from third parties playing out in the media.
“All those statements serve to do is highlight an apparent lack of awareness of post-16 skills policy or indeed the legal framework placed on College Corporation Boards by the Department for Education, and do not in any way aid the process of seeking a sensible resolution.”
- In an earlier version of this story, the college was written as ‘Malvern College’ and not ‘Malvern Hills College’. We have been contacted by Malvern College asking us to clarify this which we are, of course, happy to do so.