December 11 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Jobs are on the line in Norfolk’s adult education department because of a need to save more than £500,000 - and council bosses have revealed they are considering merging it with the library information service.
Norfolk County Council says it needs to make “immediate” management and staff reductions in the service which provides adult education to more than 9,000 people a year.
That has to be done, the council says, because of “significant” budget reductions and the need to save a further £500,000 in 2013/14.
But the council says it intends to keep open the adult education service’s main sites at Wensum Lodge in Norwich, at Thorpe St Andrew and in Attleborough.
The proposed merger with the library service, officers say, will save money and mean the county’s libraries can be increasingly used for adult education courses.
The move is one of four options to be discussed by members of the council’s community services’ overview and scrutiny panel at their meeting on Tuesday next week - and is the one officers recommend they agree to.
Margaret Wilkinson, cabinet member for communities at Norfolk County Council, with responsibility for adult education, said: “Many people in Norfolk rightly feel very protective of the Adult Education Service and hold it in very high regard because it has enabled them to change their lives, choose a new career path or take up a new opportunity.
“We wanted to find out whether the service should remain as it is or whether it could be changed or improved to ensure it better meets the needs of learners, the county council and Norfolk’s priorities.
“This review now gives a clear picture of the service, and I look forward to discussing its future with members.”
Earlier this year, it emerged that the council was considering handing the running of the adult education service to further education colleges in an attempt to cut costs and secure its future.
The local authority had talks with City College Norwich, Great Yarmouth College, the College of West Anglia in King’s Lynn and Easton College in Norwich over transferring delivery of courses to them.
The discussions followed a £700,000 – or about 10pc – reduction in funding from the Skills Funding Agency.
But, while that is one of the four options which will be presented to councillors next week, officers are not recommending that is pursued.
Officers said that option risked the “unique features of the council’s service” being diminished.
Subject to members’ views, the possible new structure could be led by a single head of a libraries, information and learning service.
See tomorrow’s papers for more on this story.