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Pressure group says college site is not ample

EDUCATION chiefs have been accused of dragging their heels over the provision of a new adult learning centre in Aldershot.

Campaigners are angry that Farnborough College of Technology has still to find a permanent new site in the town following the sale of the Manor Park Annexe for housing in September last year.

The college scooped £8.7million in the deal, which could lead to developer Barratt Southern Counties building more than 130 homes on the site.

But FCoT is still considering how best to spend the money.

Most of its Aldershot students have been moved to the college base in Boundary Road, Farnborough, but some courses are still being run at Alexander House in Aldershot's Station Road.

Aldershot Manor Park Lobby for Environment (formerly Education) says the college, which had been planning to sell Manor Park for a number of years, should have made a greater effort to find a permanent base in Aldershot.

The college has leased Alexander House for three years and runs a host of courses there covering computing, health and fitness, arts and crafts and office skills, among others.

But AMPLE chairman Lee Dawson has condemned the building as dingy and inadequate.

He said: "Barratts have put in their proposals and, to be honest, I don't really have a problem with that. There is an appeal that will sort all of that out.

"My concern is that here we are, x amount of months down the road, and we still have not got, as promised, a quality adult education centre in Aldershot.

"Until the college comes out with a statement to say otherwise, what are the people of Aldershot expected to believe?"

He added: "There are areas of urban deprivation in Aldershot and the people that really need the adult education centre are these people.

"Alexander House is a so-called drop-in facility but it's not drop-in friendly.

"It hasn't got the right car parking facilities and it hasn't got affordable crèche facilities."

AMPLE claims that Manor Park is the only suitable site for adult education provision in Aldershot.

Members want FCoT to give Barratt its money back and for efforts to be concentrated on redeveloping the annexe as a top-class adult learning centre.

Mr Dawson wants FCoT to outline its plans for Aldershot in a public statement.

A spokeswoman for the college said that efforts were being made to find an alternative permanent home in Aldershot.

She said: "What we are trying to do is give proper consideration to the best way to spend the Manor Park money.

"We are looking at a long-term relocation strategy."

The college has already agreed that it does not want to lease a building in Aldershot over a long period and a report on alternatives will be published in July.

"It's not a decision to be rushed into," said the spokeswoman.

"Provision at Alexander House will give us time to find the best way to go forward in the future."


Charlotte Neal
Chief Reporter (Aldershot)
Joshua Smith
Farnborough Reporter
Jon Couch
Sport Editor
Stephen Lloyd
Fleet & Yateley Reporter
Ros Collins
Junior News & Mail
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