Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/395/4481
Defend adult education
Don't close our centre!
IN MID-APRIL, staff of the Community Learning and Skills Service (CLaSS) in Waltham Forest, north east London, were informed that the extremely popular Walthamstow Learning Centre in Greenleaf Road would be closed from August 2005.
Susan Wills, part-time lecturer - Community Learning and Skills Service
This was a confirmation of rumours which had circulated for some time. Classes would be relocated to other centres - although most lecturers have still had no information about the location of their classes and students have received no official letter informing them that their classes are moving.
This centre has provided a wide variety of classes and activities for 80 years. It is owned by the Quakers, who have no wish to see adult education leave the premises. Although the lease does not expire until 2007, CLaSS and Waltham Forest council decided to end their association with the building.
This dismays lecturers and students, who value the centre and the sense of community created there over a long time. We believe the proposed closure is a cost-cutting exercise and part of a wider move to slim down adult education across the borough.
On 24 May, a group of centre users, lecturers, union members (NATFHE and UNISON) and local people held a well-attended and lively meeting to share information and air their views.
One of the main concerns was that the process had been shrouded in secrecy and that there had been no consultation. People were angry that such a valuable community resource was under threat and some spoke passionately about their own very positive experiences of adult education.
It was decided to stage a demonstration in Walthamstow to protest against the closure of Walthamstow Learning Centre. The date is now set for Saturday 18 June and will be widely publicised by leafleting, contacting unions, etc.
We call upon the council for proper consultation and an opening of the books, to ensure transparency and accountability.
The threat to Greenleaf Road centre is just part of a wider attack on adult education, as Friday Hill House and Louisa Oakes, two centres in Chingford, are earmarked for closure and sale by 2007. We urge local people to fight to safeguard their services and we thank the Socialist Party for their great support in this campaign.
In The Socialist 2 June 2005: