MALVERN’s MP Harriett Baldwin has held discussions with the skills minister about Malvern Hills College as a deal is worked out to try and save it from permanent closure.
Local benefactor Colin Kinnear from the Bransford Trust is behind a rescue plan to save the former college and return teaching to the historic site but the negotiations with Warwickshire College Group are ongoing.
Both Malvern Hills District Council and Worcestershire County Council have agreed to allocate funds to take control back and allow teaching to resume in September and a bid has been formally submitted.
Mrs Baldwin took the time to brief the Department for Education Minister Robert Halfon to try and make sure that agreement can be reached before a court date in June where the Leamington Spa based group will challenge a covenant protecting the site from property development.
She said: “No-one thinks it makes sense to sue Malvern Hills District Council over a covenant that was put in place to prevent asset-stripping and I am pleased that Warwickshire College Group have finally come to the table to try and do a sensible deal and I met with the Minister to update him on progress.
“I am also in touch with the negotiators in Worcestershire to seek an acceptable landing ground for a deal.
“There are still some sticking points, but I hope that both parties will be able to overcome these hurdles and do a deal that will benefit everyone, but especially all those people who are eager to see courses return to the college in September.
“I am reassured that the Minister is supportive of our efforts, and he wants an outcome that benefits local students.”
A WCG spokesperson said: “While it is not appropriate for WCG to comment on ongoing legal proceedings, legal proceedings are always a final resort when a situation cannot be otherwise resolved.
“The WCG CEO and Chair have both met with the MP and other key stakeholders on numerous occasions, but sadly the situation remains unresolved. The site has many complexities and a number of organisations are involved in this sale.
“We remain open to constructive dialogue and have always been willing to talk to any potential buyer who makes a viable offer which meets the legal obligations placed upon the college group.
“The Malvern Hills site has been closed since 2020 and the Department for Education has determined that there is no functional need for an FE college in the town to provide Government-funded courses or qualifications for young people or adults.”